AFTA View – December 2010/January 2011

2010 – big, busy and a little bit messy for the Australian travel industry

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Jason Westbury2010 – big, busy and a little bit messy for the Australian travel industry

WELL folks, 2010 is drawing to a close. Many might sigh with relief, many might jump for joy but most I think will be glad that the year did deliver the optimistic outcome that we were all a little cautious not to overstate at the start of the year.

2010 has definitely been a big, busy and a little bit of a messy year. The travel industry has been presented with many challenges which, fortunately, did not end in major tragedy. And 2010 could have been seen by some as the year of the travel agent.

While an enormous number of travellers globally were impacted by the ash plume over Europe, the civil unrest in Bangkok, the QF32 incident and mechanical issues with cruise vessel, those that booked with a travel agent were clearly far better off than those who did not.

This became very evident both from the constant consumer media enquires about how travellers could be helped and the many many emails and calls we received at AFTA.

I am sure everyone will have their own story to tell from 2010. Hopefully your story is a good one and you enjoyed a solid result and a return to good business in 2010.

In preparing for this month’s AFTA View I took a look at what I wrote both last year (2009) and earlier this year and I realised just how much I have been talking about the review of consumer protection in the travel industry.

In fact, I have been talking about this so much I have given it an acronym so when I am talking about it I can say it more quickly. I now refer to it simple as the “CPR”.

You may now be aware that after waiting six months, the travel industry has still not seen the report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Consumer Affairs Minister – now referred to by me as the CPR report.

Given the amount of work that was undertaken by AFTA and the travel industry and the lengths that we all went to in the consultation process, you would think it would be reasonable to have the CPR report results provided to us. After all, the travel industry is the single most important stakeholder in the process. The CPR report could recommend significant changes that may have a material impact on the way the industry and your business is regulated.

I expect that the process will now involve further discussion and consultation during the first few months of next year and at least this will allow AFTA and others within the travel industry to engage further in an attempt to establish a workable outcome that we will all be happy with.

It would be a real shame if, after all this talking and all this consultation, we are left with the status quo. I think that is unlikely, but you just never know.

On a much lighter note, I hope that all the loyal readers of travelBulletin have a safe, happy and family filled Christmas and an exceptional 2011.

While business travel appears to have dropped off a little earlier than usual this year retail bookings are strong. I hope that is the way it goes in 2011 and I look forward to working with all the AFTA members and the travel industry next year.

Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.





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