AFTA View – May 2012

The challenges of working for the travel industry in the federal policy sphere

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Jason WestburyThe challenges of working for travel industry
in the federal policy sphere

By Jay Westbury, chief executive Australian Federation
of Travel Agents


FEDERAL Parliament has become almost like a new reality TV show. At the time of doing this month’s AFTA View the Speaker of the House had stood aside and a Fair Work Australia report pointed to inappropriate use of union credit cards by Craig Thomson.

By the time this goes to print, who knows what the status of things will be.

Meanwhile the hot topic of a second airport for Sydney has become a political football with the NSW and federal governments looking to the other to make the big decision to get things going.

I was recently at an event when the keynote speaker stated that in the past 40 days China had built two new airports, but Australia has not been able to make a decision about a second airport in Sydney in the past 40 years.

No matter what your view is on the location, Sydney needs a second airport for the future of Australian tourism and to ensure that Australian travellers leaving for a holiday have plenty of choice.

We shall see, but given the past I would think it not a good idea to hold your breath on this decision.

• Over the past month I have had a lot of members talk to me about the Air Australia collapse and while at the time of doing this AFTA view we still did not have the final numbers around how much in the dollar IATA BSP will pay for not-flown or partially flown segments, it is clear that anything is better than nothing.

Thanks to all that have sent messages about this outcome.

AFTA will talk to the Federal Government about how to better regulate start-up airlines in Australia in the future.

I would think that airline collapses will happen again and don’t expect that government can always control this. But we can ensure there are better policies in place to control the outcome and protect consumers and travel agents. But again, don’t hold your breath on this one either.

It does appear that many in the travel industry used the protection provided by credit card chargebacks and while some agents have been caught in the middle with consumers, the numbers are not as large as first thought.

• AFTA will no longer be a member of the National Tourism Alliance (NTA) from July 2012. AFTA was a founding member of the NTA and has been the only federal industry association that
has continued its membership consistently for the past 11 years.

One of the problems for an “association of associations” making decisions and providing advocacy when there are differing views – and advocacy costs a lot of money, some-thing that the NTA does not have due to the structure of the membership.

The AFTA board has felt that AFTA is in a strong position to put the issues of the travel industry forward as required within our own resources and the NTA format does not add a value in this regard any more.
We will work with other national tourism bodies on project based issues.

Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.





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