AFTA View – June 2011

Now for the challenge of creating an agency accreditation scheme

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Jason WestburyNow for the challenge of creating an agency accreditation scheme

By Jay Westbury, chief executive Australian Federation
of Travel Agents

I AM pleased that the outcome of the review of consumer protection, means we can now start working on a transitional arrangement with the state governments.

AFTA along with others from within the travel industry will need to start work on creating an accreditation scheme for travel agent businesses. At the same time, the consumer affairs officials will look closely at what arrangements can be made in order to map out a transitional plan.

This process will take some time, but it is an important step in the right direction as the industry and other stakeholders work towards new arrangements for regulating the travel industry.

At this stage, the new arrangements are is still not completely defined and that is why the ministers have outlined the Travel Industry Transition Plan consultation process. This was announced at the conclusion of the ministerial meeting held at the beginning of June.

This is excellent news for the travel industry as it is strong signal of the call for reform that AFTA has been asking for over the past two-and-a-half years.

There are a number of complicated processes that have to be considered and reviewed in order to untangle the state legislation and further decisions have to be made in relation to the Travel Compensation Fund and what, if any, role it may play into the future.

All of these aspects will be given due consideration over the coming months as the Travel Industry Transition Plan is developed and agreed upon.

It is really pleasing to know that all of the effort and energy that has been put into the review process by AFTA has paid off and will deliver an outcome that will ensure the future success and sustainability of the Australian travel agency sector.

AFTA has created a sub-committee of the board to be known as the Accred-itation Development Committee.

This sub-committee will be tasked with the establishment requirements of structure and criteria in order to prepare an accreditation scheme which will seek to be further accredited under the Tourism Quality Council of Australia (TQCA).

You would have already started to spot advertisements by TQCA in the travel media over the past few weeks.

The goal is to have a quality accred-itation scheme for travel agencies which is accredited under the national framework and is consistent with other businesses in the Australian tourism and travel industry.

• MEANWHILE, as we arrive at the end of the financial year, the industry faces more challenges with a volcanic ash plume in our own backyard.

Last year when the drama unfolded around the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption in Iceland who would have thought that a volcano in Chile known as Puyehue-Cordón Caulle would cause the level of disruption to the domestic aviation scene that we have been experiencing.

So as if it is now common place, all sorts of additional effort and rearrangements have to be made by travel agents, airlines and others to accommodate customers.

The level of disruption has been quite amazing and, once again, travel agents have proved to be of great service to the travelling public.

Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.





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