AFTA View – April 2012

Good news on Air Oz BSP funds; telling the truth about Fiji; NTIA records broken

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Jason WestburyGood news on Air Oz BSP funds; telling the truth about Fiji;
NTIA records broken

By Jay Westbury, chief executive Australian Federation
of Travel Agents


I AM most pleased that Air Australia funds held by the BSP will be available for refunds to eligible tickets for unflown or partially flown sectors and that the IATA refund process will be well under way by the time this reaches you.

While the refunds will not be for 100 per cent of the value, it is clear that this is better than being on the long list of Air Australia creditors who appear to be receiving nothing from the damning report released by the administrators.

We have to really think about low-cost, start-up airlines in the future. AFTA will continue to push for Federal Government reform over the monitoring of new Australian based airlines.

• While we have all enjoyed Easter, those involved in sending people to Fiji over the Easter and school holidays have had all sorts of issues to deal with.

Once again I can’t believe how mixed, confusing and in some cases wrong, consumer media reports were in relation to the situation and status on the ground in Fiji.

Some of you may have heard my radio interview on 2GB with Alan Jones the Thursday prior to Easter in which as far has he was concerned the destination had shut down and every-one and anyone should have got all their money back no questions asked.

I can assure you that I debated this point at length with him on air and, while I don’t think there are any winners in talk back radio, I do think that some important points were made in defence of the travel industry and most importantly the travel agents.

You might be interested to know that Alan has a holiday booked in September and he “used a travel agent”, which I got him to confirm on air. That’s one for us!

From all reports, including some I got directly from general managers of hotels on the ground in Fiji, the travellers’ experience over the Easter and holiday period will have been more than acceptable.

While there is no question the weather events have had an impact on the broader country and people of Fiji, the tourists will still get a good holiday from what I am told.

Sure, there are areas that have been impacted by floods and recovery work will take some time, but the good news is that for the travel industry Fiji can continue to be a good place to send clients and let’s face it

Fiji is so dependent on the strong support of Australians travelling to their country.

• Finally we are completely over-whelmed with the support for this year’s AFTA National Travel Industry Awards. Tickets have already sold out. Voting has broken all records. This is a testament to the value that the travel industry places on this event.

For the many that are now on wait-lists, we will be having a think about how we can find a bigger venue for the 2013 program so that we can accom-modate as many people as we can. To all those that will be contesting this year’s event, best of luck.

Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.





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