AFTA view: December 2017

Jayson Westbury, chief executive AFTA reflects on 2017 and the revolution that AICS has been.

Jayson Westbury, chief executive AFTA

What a year the travel industry has had in 2017! With the continued growth in outbound passenger numbers up some 4.4% year on year and the strong desire by Aussies to go on an overseas holiday, 2017 has been a ripper.

2018 is shaping up to be another good year with a continued high degree of intention to travel and strong signs of solid consumer sentiment. I hope that this will be the case and that everyone in the travel value chain will get a reasonable share of the success.

For AFTA, 2017 has been a building year for sure, with the successful introduction of the AFTA Insolvency Chargeback Scheme (AICS). We’ve seen immediate and strong support by travel agents who see the value of the scheme and the long awaited resolution to the long standing problem of supplier failure and credit card chargebacks.

Next year the scheme is bound to really take hold across the industry as agents find the true value of the protection, and settle on new ways of approaching their credit card merchant facilities. AICS now has a wide range of payment providers who have different products and services on offer, so this provides a range of choice for different travel agents to consider what is best for their business.

It is an exciting time for Australian travel agents as the problem of credit card chargebacks resulting from supplier collapse is alive and well in every market across the globe. We in Australia have found a simple, cost effective, affordable and industry-owned way to address this challenge.

In addition to the introduction of the AICS scheme, ATAS has continued to kick goals and deliver value to travel agents right across the country. With ever increasing numbers of travel businesses wanting to be a part of the scheme and the continued push to market the value of travel agents across a wide range of media outlets at a national level it remains a key focus for what AFTA does and stands for.

Distribution of travel products is not easy and it takes a network of professional members like those who are with AFTA and ATAS accredited to fully realise the value that this strong movement can provide.

Consumers want to continue to enjoy choice. Travel is best purchased by being able to access comparisons and product range and travel agents are without question best placed to deliver this to consumers regardless of the format or path that the consumer may choose to connect.

The modern Australian travel agent is going to be adapting to these changes over the years ahead and I remain very confident that the role of the travel agent will continue for decades and AFTA will remain in the thick of the conversations of the day to ensure the future of travel agents.

From where I sit it is already looking very bright and successful. I look forward to 2018 as I believe it will be a good year for the travel industry and I hope no matter where you may sit in the travel value chain, you will also have a fantastic 2018.

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