Tom Manwaring, Interim Executive Chair, Australian Federation of Travel Agents

Finally, the green shoots of recovery are starting to appear. We have dates for Sydney’s lockdown restrictions easing so that’s a good start. The point we have continued to make when talking to Government and media is that it’s going to take a while for that to translate into a boost in confidence. It’s not simply a matter of flicking a light switch and everything returns to normal.

Our sector has been through 600 long, hard days of lockdown and it’s going to be over the next 12 to 18 months before our industry can finally recover. Our core message is and remains — we need support now and on an ongoing basis.

Austrade have confirmed finalisation of those claims still outstanding under Round 2 of the Consumer Travel Grant is very close. We need this resolved and continue to provide this feedback to Government while pushing for finalisation of the Round 3 approach.

AFTA also continues to flag the urgent need for Banks to recognise the value of the Federal Government’s 80% Loan Guarantee to everyone and anyone who will listen including Government, the Small Business Ombudsman and the Australian Banking Association.

Behind the scenes, the work continues to future proof our sector and organisation. As part of this, AFTA’s Consitutional Review is underway. As flagged in our AFTA Annual Report, the Board Sub-Committee to oversee the evolution of our Constitution and the review of our membership structure is now in place.

This evolving of AFTA will be one of the immediate priorities for our new CEO Dean Long who will start in the role shortly.

It’s also been a big month for AFTA’s National Mobilisation Campaign as our members amplify the need for support with their local Federal MPs. This approach has already delivered results in the form of the Grant Support and the timing is important in driving home the importance of ongoing support.

So let’s finish on a positive note. If you look back to where we were two months ago, we’ve come a long way towards opening up. You’ve got to believe that, in another two months time, it’s going to look dramatically different around the country.