TOM Manwaring, AFTA Chairman, on behalf of the AFTA Board

It has been a very difficult time for everyone in our industry and it is certainly a relief to see the government’s framework for a COVIDsafe Australia, an easing of lockdown restrictions and discussion of intra- and interstate travel.

We’re heading in the right direction, but we know that the fight is not over yet. We’d like to reinforce that each and every day AFTA has been working in the interests of members to ensure they remain connected, informed and supported.

From the very beginning the AFTA Board and team have worked consistently to ensure those making the decisions at the most senior levels of Government, from the Prime Minister down, understand the very unique set of pressures travel agents are facing. Pleasingly, it seems our approach is delivering, with senior politicians including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, starting to acknowledge publicly that we are in a unique situation and require additional support.

AFTA like every other business has had to embrace a new cash flow conscience. The AFTA Pitt St sale provided a sound financial footing for members, allowing for the decision to waive Membership Fees for 2020/21 in recognition of the impact.

The ability of the AFTA team to proactively and effectively deliver for members is a tribute to them and to former CEO Jayson Westbury. Jayson built a team of highly skilled and well connected professionals, and that’s just part of his legacy for which we are all very thankful.

The search for a new CEO is well underway and there’s already a great deal of interest. The AFTA membership base and the Board reflect the reality that the majority of travel agencies in this country are independently owned and operated. The incoming CEO must represent the diversity of our sector and be able to ensure AFTA has a unified and united voice as we engage with government, suppliers and other sectors to promote travel and travel agents.

Now more than ever, we need to keep working together to ensure positive outcomes for the industry and travel agents.