ATEC View – March 2011
Forces of nature have dramatic impact on our industry
By Felicia Mariani, managing director, Australian Tourism Export Council
THIS is my first ATEC View column since stepping into the role as managing director of the association just four weeks ago.
This first month has been fairly consumed with the serious issues facing our industry in Queensland following the back to back devastation of the floods and cyclone in the south and the north of the State.
The damage created by these forces of nature has had both a dramatic direct and indirect impact on our industry.
Direct, in that many of our renowned tourism products in prime areas of Queensland have been dramatically affected by the power of the floods and storms.
Indirect, in that just about every tourism business across the state has been financially decimated by the public perception that all of Queensland is under water or severely damaged, leading to mass cancellations in what should have been their “harvest season” in January.
Looking across the Tasman to our friends in New Zealand, we see the incredible scenes of destruction in the aftermath of the earthquake in Christchurch, proving yet again how vulnerable our industry is to forces beyond our control and the resulting negative perceptions, based in reality or not.
We now must contend with a global audience who have instant vision of any crisis through a myriad of media and digital communications.
These separate but related incidents have thrown travel and tourism in our region into turmoil.
It is at these challenging times that we are reminded of the value and security of having booked your travel with a licensed agent who can be accessible and supportive for a traveller in need or crisis.
While there could never be a communications campaign around these recent events, they will have undoubtedly affected many travellers who would now realise the value of having booked through a qualified agent.
It is imperative that as an industry we continue to espouse the virtues and benefits of booking through a licensed travel agent.
While we cannot turn back the tide on the trend of consumers booking direct through the internet (and in fact nor should we seek to) we need to ensure that the messages of security and safety are measured and weighed against a purchase that may be, on the surface, perceived as easier, faster or cheaper.
As I move forward in my new role at ATEC, I am keen to work with our industry partners to reinforce the benefits of the professionalism and reliability that comes with booking through a licensed travel agent who can be there to help when needed.
In uncertain times as these, trust is our greatest asset.
This industry has deservedly built its reputation over many years on that platform.
ATEC View column appears quarterly.