Challenges remain, but integrity prevails: Westbury

JaysonWestburyTravel Agents have a future. In fact, they have a stunning future – not only by enriching the lives of travellers, but also as a key contributor to the global economy. This was the message I shared with guests at the 2nd Global Congress of Presidents of Associations in my role as the WTAAA chair, and I firmly believe this is the case.

Travel agents play a key role in connecting the global economy, and their contribution on an economic, social and environmental level is invaluable. Travel agents are also consistently undervalued and under recognised by many in the travel value chain, as well as by governments and regulators across the globe.

As chair of the WTAAA I am working extremely hard to ensure that travel agents have a voice, are heard, and are taken seriously. Above all, it’s imperative that agents are recognised for their honest hardworking ethic and commitment – but we also face a number of challenges.

This year, the world again saw an attack that increased the perceived risk of commercial aviation, and safety which was unquestioned for so long is now being challenged. Of course I am talking about the shooting down of MH 17 which was very close to our hearts as we lost so many. I pay tribute to all the men, women and children of MH 17, but the world will go on, and all will continue to travel and fly as we must. The travel industry continues to reach out in support of those who have been impacted, and this resilience shows that in the end, mankind prevails over evil.

But the issues that we face within this industry are broad. For instance, digital disruption is upon us and the NDC has left many in dubiety. While I can see that a change of this significance needs careful consideration, the simple fact is that technology adoption and innovation are key aspects to ensure travel agents have a future.

The Global Congress of Presidents and Associations provided an ideal platform for discussion in this regard, and to exchange ideas, plans and strategies for the future. It also gave attendees an ideal opportunity to forge lasting relationships that can make a difference for the global industry – and hopefully our own home markets.

Moving forward, I will endeavour to make a difference for the industry in my role as chair of the WTAAA. I am honoured to hold this position and to work for an organisation whose most basic value is one of integrity. It is an extremely valuable attribute and one I strongly believe agents hold close to their hearts.

As we move into 2015, we will face new challenges, but I will continue to provide a single, robust voice for agents. While we may be many voices, we should have one message.