By Dean Long, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Federation of Travel Agents
AS WE head into 2022, it’s worth reflecting on the year that’s been while also throwing ourselves into the year ahead. The past 12 months has not been without its challenges but we also need to celebrate the wins achieved through collective action. Securing Federal Government support for our sector of $258m is one of those wins.
As a peak industry body, we exist for our members and because of our members. We don’t and can’t work in isolation; we achieve impact through harnessing the experience, expertise and passion of our members and through collaborating with other peak industry bodies.
Two years on from COVID’s first appearance in Australia, our fight for support continues. This need for support was again reinforced by so many members of the Travel Sector during the recent National Day of Action. Travel Expert Belle Goldie successfully galvanised travel businesses all around Australia as delegations to local Federal MPs. The cumulative impact of this on top of ongoing MP briefings our members have had, and targeted local activations including the tremendous work of Jo Francis and WA agents matters. Importantly, these efforts have centred on a key success factor — a common ask. This common ask is the need for ongoing support given the value of travel professionals and the importance of international travel normalising as soon as possible.
Now more than ever we need to keep working together with a clear focus on our shared goal of ongoing support. AFTA is calling for a $190m Travel Sector Skills Retention and Recovery Package which includes the immediate release of the estimated $66m already allocated to the travel sector as part of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program, but so far unspent.
We are also seeking a JobStarter Package similar to the International Aviation Support Program to provide $10,000 per new or re-engaged employee.
Our ask of the Federal Government is simple — please support us so that we can keep supporting travelling Australians.