travelBulletin

AFTA view: the year that was

2015 will go down as a tough year - not so much in terms of the travel market, but more that the world has once again thrown so much at us all. With ash clouds and terrorism taking centre stage it has been a year of challenges, writes Jayson Westbury, chief executive AFTA.

JaysonWestburyby Jayson Westbury, chief executive AFTA

2015 will go down as a tough year – not so much in terms of the travel market, but more that the world has once again thrown so much at us all. With ash clouds and terrorism taking centre stage it has been a year of challenges. Global leaders must be furious at how random acts can bring so much harm and pain to the law abiding citizens of this world. As we look forward into 2016 I hope that some of the despicable people that take the actions they do are hunted down and brought to account.

For the Australian travel industry, regardless of all of these troubles I remain confident that Aussies will travel in numbers in 2016. A Federal election is likely to be held in September or October (that is a prediction only), and this brings with it a certain feeling amongst the electorate. But hopefully the 2016 campaign will be based on positive messages from both sides and continue to drive the confidence that we have seen rebound.

There are many other challenges ahead for the travel industry, none the least of which is the challenge of credit card surcharging which is bound to make the news over the holiday break. Then there are the possible changes to GST that might come about in 2016 – who knows what impact that might have. Remember GST does not apply to services delivered overseas, which means that any increase in the GST makes holidaying at home more expensive.

The exchange rate may also be a factor, as the dollar settles around the USD$0.70 mark. It appears unlikely to fall too much further unless we see another financial shock, but more likely as the economy settles around the world and some of this unrest hits home, we may well see a rise in the good old Aussie dollar.

That would be a double whammy for the inbound industry if the government(s) also agrees to increase the GST. So plenty to watch out for next year and plenty going on that will have an impact on the travel industry one way or another.

For AFTA, 2016 will see us really hit the ball out of the park with ATAS. There is much more advertising to be done with consumers and a continued push to bring home the positive messages about using an ATAS accredited travel agents.

And then of course there will be NTIA 2016. With a swathe of changes announced in December, a new MC, more seats in a venue that nobody thought possible and the return of the after party, NTIA 2016 tickets will be as hot as they have ever been.

To finish, I strongly believe that we are looking at a strong year for travel in 2016. I hope that everyone, no matter what role they play in the industry, gets the success they deserve. I am forecasting that by 2018 we will see over 10 million international departures and to get to my prediction 2016 has to be a big year.

Best of luck to all.

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