AFTA View – December 2011/January 2012

Eleven significant events of 2011 impacting the Australian travel industry

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Jason WestburyEleven significant events of 2011 impacting the
Australian travel industry

By Jay Westbury, chief executive Australian Federation
of Travel Agents


AS I think about 2011, my mind turns to 11 things of significance which have impacted upon the travel industry over these past 12 months.

Firstly the floods in Queensland that got the year off to a dreadful start with many of the impacts still being felt, next the political unrest in Egypt which showed how travel agents add value and will go out of their way to help clients.

Then Cyclone Yasi which passed through Northern Queensland in a matter of a few hours, but left a trail of destruction and deepened the troubles for the Queensland tourism industry. AFTA and retailers looked to support them by talking up and booking when possible holidays in Queensland.

Then the earthquake in Christchurch, a peaceful place on this earth that so many Australian’s have visited. Our hearts went out to our friends across the ditch.

Then the tsunami in Japan which brought with it new risks that nobody had really considered. How do you contain the media to a problem in one area of a country without sending a message that the entire country is at risk of nuclear exposure?

Then the long-awaited PricewaterhouseCoopers report on the review of consumer protection in the travel industry was released after a very long wait and it totally acknowledged the policy position that AFTA had taken.

The policy debate had been won and now the serious minor detail of how to implement the policy began.
The consistently high Australian dollar had the travel industry on a roll for 2011 and things are looking good.

But, then the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted and the travel and aviation industry found out just how much trouble an ash plume over Europe can cause to the travelling public. Once again travel agents are on the front line helping travellers to get organised.

Then, without a lot of notice, an ash plume from the erupted Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in Chile caused grounding of domestic flights in Australia and trouble for flights across the Tasman – something that everyone just looks in amazement upon and something once again which requires travel agents to rally into action.

On top of these natural disasters the entire Qantas fleet is grounded over a weekend in October. Nobody had trained for this but travel agents proved their true value.

And while the travel and tourism industry worked through these challenges the Federal Parliament passed a carbon tax, which is not helpful to the travel industry.

And it went further, on its last sitting day with the unexpected and sudden resignation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Harry Jenkins, giving Prime Minister Gillard an entirely new footing on which to base, god only knows, upon us all next year.

These 11 things in 2011 have had and in some cases will continue to have significant impacts upon the travel industry in 2012.

After all that, one really does need to take a deep breath and I hope many of you will get a break, even if just a short break over this Christmas holiday period.

I wish all the loyal readers of travelBulletin a safe and joyful Christmas and hope that 2012 will bring prosperity and success to everyone.

Let’s also hope that we can have a lot less drama in 2012.


Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.





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