By Dean Long, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Federation of Travel Agents
SIX months into the role for me and what a six months it’s been! Sir Richard Branson once said “there are no quick wins in business – it takes years to become an overnight success”. That’s so true. As I said when I started, the work of AFTA and the greater sector has and will continue to be envy of the travel and tourism industry.
We should be proud of what we have achieved. Getting the cut through yet again to be heard at the most senior of political levels is no easy feat. It didn’t just happen. We have continued to get results together because of a sustained effort which AFTA is proud to have led over two years.
This outcome is because right across the sector we have pulled together with a unified voice. AFTA has sustained the campaign with ongoing and intense lobbying, active engagement in the political wheels via joining the major parties’ corporate programs, being in Canberra and donating to those who have supported our sector.
The release of the outstanding $75.5 million approved as part of the Consumer Travel Support Program was a hard fought win and everyone who contacted their local MP and other decision makers can and should take pride in our success.
While not all of AFTA’s recommended criteria changes were accepted (and not for want of trying), this was a big win in the maelstrom of a what is already essentially an election campaign.
We are continuing to push for the help our sector deserves as one of Australia’s most significant economic drivers. As per our pre-Budget ask, this includes support from the incoming Government in rebuilding skills and workforce. As demand recovers, this will become the most pressing challenge every travel business will have in the next six months.
Parallel to this, AFTA continues with our formal review including the current focus on ATAS – a critical activity that will ensure the scheme continues to give consumers and businesses confidence to book. The Board is determined to make sure our formal frameworks and this organisation are exactly where we need to be to keep serving our members and this sector.