AFTA View – September 2011
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For the nation’s travel agents Australia remains the Lucky Country
By Jay Westbury, chief executive Australian Federation
of Travel Agents
TEN years on from the tragic events of September 11th in the US the American travel industry is thriving and the US, while faced with economic worries, is also thriving.
I was fortunate to be in the US for the 10th anniversary of those tragic events at the opening of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) travel show.
Being in America at this time has really been an eye opener as the media coverage and the way the stories have been told about what has developed in America post 9/11 is amazing.
The way the American people have moved on, yet show a depth of respect for the events of 9/11, the loss of life and the grief that many American families still feel is inspirational.
Attending the ASTA conference as a part of the second board meeting of the WTAAA (World Travel Agent Association Alliance) has also been a real eye opener.
The amount of times that delegates from America and other countries attending the conference asked me how Australian travel agents continue to be so successful was also amazing.
While the Australian travel industry has its challenges, we in the Australian travel industry are fortunate to be so robust and structured.
The American travel agent environment is one that lacks this level of structure and solidarity. In fact it is a very complex travel market and the issues being addressed and discussed are extremely different to those issues faced in the Australian market and I must say I was a little surprised at just how different things really are.
We are also lucky in Australia to have sound and solid working relationships with our key suppliers. Be it air, land or sea, the Australian travel market has it all over the Americans in terms of how we go about relationships and working together.
In addition to the ASTA conference, the WTAAA board held its second meeting for the year. Peter Barlow of TAANZ (Travel Agents Association of New Zealand) was returned as chairman of WTAAA for another year.
It is most pleasing to see the WTAAA continue to function as a global body for travel agents. While a great deal of the time spent at WTAAA is on matters relating to IATA, the WTAAA board is commencing work on identifying other matters of global significance that it can become more involved in.
Some of the issues addressed include cross-border selling, identifying more broadly suppliers and product categories that are more travel agent friendly and looking at practical ways to place travel careers more into the media.
Globally, there are many diverse and far ranging issues that are country specific and each member nation association has got its own battles to win, but the ability to share ideas, share polices and outcomes is most rewarding and beneficial to me personally.
This also has a positive impact upon AFTA as an organisation as it allows for ideas and concepts to be explored with like minded people who in some cases, have previously found ways to reach an outcome on a particular issue.
The WTAAA will continue to contribute in a range of ways and AFTA continues to support and contribute to the WTAAA.
Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.