TOM Manwaring, Interim Executive Chair, Australian Federation of Travel Agent
Where to from here? It’s a question we’re being asked a lot especially off the back of the reporting of the Federal Budget.
The Government has been talking about safe travel zones for a long time. AFTA has been pushing for more safe travel zones opening sooner rather than later given the mounting economic and social cost of the current approach.
In doing so, we stand alongside many other peak industry bodies, corporate Australia, universities, farmers and primary producers, representatives of other countries and the many, many Australians with family, business interests and friends overseas.
AFTA continues to amplify the compelling need for ongoing support for travel agents and businesses until international travel resumes, especially given the economic contribution we make, the employment footprint our sector has, and the ongoing and increasing consumer and corporate reliance on travel agents for support.
The AFTA Board continues to be actively involved in the fight for a commonsense approach. I along with seven Directors was in Canberra lobbying during Budget week over several days as well as bringing together other interested organisations and stakeholders as part of an alliance summit. Our message is clear — until international travel resumes, Government must support all of our sector, including via but not limited to the extension of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Grant program. We have come such a long way in terms of making Government understand this but now more than ever we need to keep the pressure on.
Nothing is as it was. We can’t rely on doing things the way we once did pre-COVID, because those days are well and truly gone. As much as we would like the old days and ways to return, the reality is that they can’t and won’t. By working together, by stepping up to the challenges together, and by supporting each other through the necessary changes, we will get through this together.