AFTA View – February 2013

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Jason Westbury2013 prospects: strong trading, regulatory reform –
and a mid-year party

By Jay Westbury, chief executive Australian Federation
of Travel Agents

THE New Year has kicked off to another rocky start with floods and fires and our hearts go out to all those impacted. I am hopeful these problems will have limited impact on the travel industry.
If the economy holds up, we should continue to hold high consumer confidence and people will travel.

The Australian Government has forecast continued growth in outbound departures and with the competitive nature of air travel this year, particularly to Europe, we should see strong results.

The recent news of Carnival Triumph’s troubles should not dampen the ever increasing desire for Aussies to cruise and together these factors should deliver a strong year for travel in 2013.

• 2013 is also the year when the regulatory environment for agents will start to change. As readers would know the Travel Industry Transition Plan is being implemented by government, and AFTA, via a series of working groups, has started on the serious part of developing the replacement voluntary accreditation scheme.

I wish that all the detail was available now and that I could give more clarity around the implementation timetable, but with so many governments involved and so many processes to be followed this will be a slow moving transition.

What we know right now is that government officials are preparing a new Travel Compensation Trust

Deed document which will spell out to the TCF what is to happen from July 1.

The indications are that this new trust deed will remove the need for annual financial returns and audits and a releasing of bonds, but I stress this will not be confirmed until the new deed is public. I expect that to be sometime in June.

Further, I expect the deed will outline how the “grants” that were outlined in the Ministerial Communiqué after the historic December Ministers meeting will work and hopefully their amount.

• The 2013 National Travel Industry Awards process is well under way and once again it is clear that the industry loves these awards. Nominations are flooding in and no doubt the contest this year will be as hard fought as previous years.

We have also made the very big decision to relocate the Gala Event to the Hordern Pavilion at Moore Park in Sydney. This will allow us to accommodate many more people than in past years and produce an even more spectacular extravaganza.

Qantas will once again be our major sponsor and it is with their help that we can make this happen. Plus this year the after party will be held at the funky HI-FI club across the road from the Hordern Pavilion and everyone who attends the dinner will be able to go. Thanks again to Singapore Airlines for their support.

So 2013, a year that should bring strong trading, regulatory reform and a really big party in the middle of the year to keep us all on our toes.

Good luck in this Federal Election year. Oh that’s right there is an election this year which just adds an entirely new element to the many variables that impact the Australian travel industry.

Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.