By BRUCE Piper
What a difference a month makes. The May issue of travelBulletin was full of news about what AFTA had been doing, with Jayson Westbury taking the industry’s issues to the top, the COVID-19-forced shutdown of the AFTA Chargeback scheme and efforts to bring some positivity to mainstream media coverage.
But then while he was in full stride came the bombshell of Westbury’s shock resignation, with many in the industry wondering whether the Federation can recover from the loss of such a passionate figurehead.
As I wrote in Travel Daily the day after he stepped aside, Jayson will be sorely missed. His skills enabled him to work right across the spectrum — from high level ministerial meetings and lobbying on the international stage, right through to dealing with the individual concerns of small agencies.
Under his leadership the National Travel Industry Awards reached new heights of respect and recognition, and we, like the wider industry, have valued his ongoing contributions to our publications.
Unfortunately Jayson’s comments about TV host Tracy Grimshaw were indefensible and the AFTA Board understandably felt they had no choice but to accept his resignation.
The industry reeled — but then rallied — in the days after his departure. AFTA Chairman Tom Manwaring has stepped into the breach, and is now engaging with bureaucrats daily to highlight the unique position we are all under due to COVID-19 and border closures.
The AFTA Board has united in its ongoing efforts on behalf of the industry, while the team in the Federation’s head office have stepped up to continue Westbury’s advocacy and engagement both with AFTA members and the wider travel sector.
Our cover story this month from Steve Jones canvasses the vexed question of AFTA’s future in the post-Westbury world. It’s a cracker.