ATAS Hits Goals in First Year

As we come to the end of the 2015 financial year, it is a time to reflect on how the first six months of this year has gone for the travel industry, writes Jayson Westbury.

By Jayson Westbury, chief executive AFTAJaysonWestbury

As we come to the end of the 2015 financial year, it is a time to reflect on how the first six months of this year has gone for the travel industry.

There does appear to be a spring in the step of the industry from all reports and this is pleasing. Alongside this is the fact that Australian consumers appear to be looking more positive with the latest consumer confidence indices showing uplift in confidence. These are all good signs that the next six months should continue to be strong for the travel industry.

For AFTA, it is also the month when we release our Annual Report and I am very pleased that AFTA has also managed to have a reasonable year off the back of an action packed agenda with a wide range of issues being addressed.

ATAS will turn one at the end of this month and this will see us start the 12 month review of ATAS that is required under the charter. The review will include a process to allow industry and other stakeholders to submit their views and opinions on the current scheme, and we look forward to receiving this information. ATAS has done very well in its first year of operation and there is no doubt the scheme and AFTA will continue to enjoy the overwhelming support of the agency community in Australia.

The numbers of agents that have joined ATAS over the past 12 months has seen the membership numbers of AFTA also lift from the previous year. We have also started the renewal process, and looking at the number of agencies that have commenced this process, it is clear that ATAS is adding value to the industry.

There have been a couple of bumps along the way with several agencies (not all ATAS accredited) falling foul of their obligations, and in some case finding themselves before the police for their actions. All of these challenges were expected and the ATAS plan which was implemented has done a good job in addressing some of the questions that have been raised. Further improvement in anything new is always to be expected and the review will assist in this process.

The new de-regulated arrangements were never going to be able to fix all the problems, certainly not within 12 months. Importantly, the reputation of the travel agent is firmly intact and improving as the ATAS messages get out into the broader community. The travel industry, like all industries, will have the occasional bad egg but what is important is that the agency community has a strong, robust and well resourced body to address concerns, respond and elevate the standards of the industry into the future.

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