By Dean Long, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Federation of Travel Agents
AS WE enter the recovery phase of the pandemic, we continue to face significant challenges that rival those of the last two years but in significantly different ways. As we seek to recapitalise our businesses and rehire and rebuild our teams, the reality that we have lost many to our sector hits home. Most businesses are now creating a clear plan to adjust to the different income structures and identifying which products and services they are going to offer in the coming year.
AFTA is doing the same. After over 24 months of industry support and dedicated daily advocacy which has supported the over 5,000 travel businesses across all three rounds, we are also resetting what we do and how we do it. Our success has come not only from this daily effort but also from our ongoing significant financial investment in policy, political donations and one on one business mentoring. AFTA waived all fees for members for the first 12 months. The AFTA Board rightly decided that maintaining support for members through advocacy, engagement and mentoring was critical to get as many members as possible through the challenges of COVID.
But that does come with ramifications and I can confirm that AFTA will operate at a loss for FY2022. Hardly surprising but, as all of the services of AFTA and ATAS are restored and we seek new ways to deliver membership value through our ATAS and Constitutional reviews, we are sure to see membership growth and a strengthened financial position.
Our new fee structure, which will be fairer and more transparent, will have most members paying similar or less then in 2019. Increases will however occur for those businesses with a TTV over $100m. As we rebuild AFTA and our Sector we must create a sustainable framework that supports all agencies large and small which is sustainable. AFTA’s commitment to a diverse travel sector delivering for our employees, businesses and clients remains a core principle that drives all we do.