AFTA View – February 2011

Troubling times but reason for optimism in the year of the rabbit

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Jason WestburyTroubling times but reason for optimism in the year of the rabbit

By Jay Westbury, chief executive Australian Federation
of Travel Agents

AS I think about how 2011 has started, it’s hard not to be troubled. January started with the floods in Queensland which we all now know have impacted on many others areas of Australia. Then came the devastating impact of Cyclone Yasi and, in very recent days, the fires in Western Australia.

Queensland is without question the most impacted by these events.

AFTA has taken an active role in providing links between the travel trade and the Queensland tourism industry. We have done this to help try and drive better communications for the travel industry to understand the impacts of the floods and cyclone.

Queensland depends on tourism and the tourism industry depends on Australians taking a holiday or business trip sooner rather than later.

The travel distribution system, and more importantly travel agents, can help influence decisions of those people thinking about or questioning if they should go to Queensland.

Without question, they should go and we need to do what we can to facilitate visits to Queensland as soon as possible.

While the clean-up from the floods and the cyclone is a work in progress, Queensland’s tourism industry has been seriously impacted even in the areas where they have had no flooding or any impact from the cyclone.

It will take some time to fully understand the economic impact on the Queensland tourism industry, but the clear message including the message from the Premier Anna Bligh, is “Please come to Queensland, we are open for business”.

The year has also opened with international drama in Egypt. While reports in are that there are not that many Australians caught up in the situation, it has made for plenty of work for travel agents rearranging peoples plans. Once again, the travel agent steps in to help along with the majority of the industry who have been prepared to assist consumers in rebooking or changing plans.

On more direct issues relating to the travel industry, early predictions have the industry set for a really strong year.

This is in line with the Australian Government’s own predictions for strong growth in outbound travel from Australia in 2011 – all good signs for the travel industry.
AFTA also has a busy year ahead aside from the involvement in domestic crisis issues.

We hope to have some good news on the consumer protection review this year. And we have released the first phase of our new consumer awareness campaign which has been well received and has already made an impact at the AFTA Sunday Mail Holiday Expo in Adelaide.

AFTA has also continued to work with our global friends on the WTAAA in relation to the AA/Travelport issue and the use of ADMs for the collection of the premium booking fee along with the issue of how BA applies the PNR creation date to fare rules.

2011 is the Chinese Year of the Rabbit – supposedly a year of great optimism, a year in which you might reconnect with family and a year that will bring positive and inspiring outcomes to those that apply peaceful and well meaning approaches to their desires … But that, of course, only applies if you believe.

Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.





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