AFTA view

JAYSON Westbury, chief executive AFTA

Another good year

As we race to the end of 2018, it does appear that this year will be recorded as having been a good year for travel. We have seen strong and sustained growth of outbound departures in excess of 10 million movements trending at around a 4% growth.

The key destinations that Australians travel to in order by number are (as at July): New Zealand (1.4m), Indonesia (1.2m,) USA (1m), UK (649k), Thailand (579k) and China (573k).

On the flip side, in the inbound movement numbers China, New Zealand, USA and UK all rate high, but Indonesia and Thailand are very small inbound markets to Australia.

Australia continues to punch well above its weight on the outbound markets leaderboard, being the 8th largest by number of movements in the world. If you think about our current population, we are inching closer to nearly 50% of our population taking an overseas trip.

We continue to have one of the highest per capita penetration rates in the world with around 56% of the population holding a current passport. In fact, the passport office prints nearly 10,000 passports at day, including new issue and reissued passports.

The passport office has been heavily engaged in a continuous improvement program as there are ongoing challenges to produce world class passports that can meet the ever changing requirements of international identification standards, but in an efficient and cost effective way. It’s very pleasing to be working with the Australian Passport Office to enable enhancements and improvements to the application and renewal experience and ultimately generate a secure but fast issue outcome.

Given the latest round of public results released by so many companies operating in the travel and tourism industry, it is clear that they continue to be successful. It also goes further than that, with travel agents across the value chain all reporting a successful financial year. This is good news for the industry and the ongoing viability of the sector.

Travel agents will always face challenges and so AFTA has embarked on a new campaign to support ATAS accredited travel agents by way of a new television commercial that was released late last month. The new campaign carries a message for consumers: Travel Agents — experience you can trust.

The feedback from stakeholders and consumers has been pleasing and we look forward to a continued outreach of this message both in the digital media and further TV and cinema campaigns into 2019.

It is, as ever, an exciting time for the travel industry with the market showing strong signs of continued growth and solid data that travel agents remain relevant and important in the ongoing distribution of travel products to Australian consumers.