AFTA view: December 2018 edition

Jayson Westbury, chief executive AFTA

No question, 2018 has been a fast-paced year and for outbound travel will go down as a good year. My hope is that in 2019 this will continue and we once again have a good year for travel.

For AFTA, we launched the new consumer engagement strategy this year which will flow on into 2019 and beyond. This has included the new television commercial promoting travel agents and the introduction of the new tagline — ‘Travel Agents, experience you can trust’. The commercial is already being seen on a range of TV screens around the country and in fact, is expected in the first round to reach some 1.9 million consumers. It will build on the ever-increasing awareness of ATAS accredited travel agents. It is exciting that AFTA is now in a position to be planning and placing regular targeted television commercials to support ATAS accredited travel agents throughout the country.

Having done a large round of travel agent group conferences over the past couple of months I have also been really pleased with the feedback from travel agents who do feel we have put together a terrific commercial.

To build on this, AFTA has also entered into a partnership with the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age Traveller to support the NTIA in 2019. This will give us an even bigger reach into the minds of consumers about the travel industry and the reasons why travel agents remain important and provide so many benefits.

With all that in play, I remain hopeful that the travel industry will have another good year in 2019.

On a final note, I am also very happy with the acceptance of the AFTA Chargeback Scheme (ACS) and the number of ATAS agents who are now enjoying the protection provided by this new scheme. Chargebacks are one of the biggest challenges for travel agents when a supplier collapses and this scheme does exactly what it was designed to do — provide protection for agents.

With the collapse of a wholesaler in late October, I am very pleased to say that the scheme has already paid out to travel agents providing them with the ability to get on with booking alternatives for their clients without the worry of how to fund the chargeback from cash flow.

ACS has been put in place to address this long-standing issue that the industry has faced for decades and it is great to know that it is on the right path to continue to protect and support travel agents in 2019.

If you own a travel agency and hold ATAS accreditation and have not yet taken up the scheme, which does not cost anything to the agency, I urge you to check it out at www.afta.com.au.

A very happy holiday season to all and I look forward to a terrific 2019.

 

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