AFTA CEO Darren Rudd’s program to engage with the grassroots of the industry will step up this month as the Federation pushes for a $125 million package of support in the upcoming Federal Budget.
A formal submission has been lodged, seeking a combination of business support grants and Commonwealth-backed loans to help the travel industry ride out the coronacrisis, with Rudd telling travelBulletin the package seeks funding on top of economy-wide measures like JobKeeper.
AFTA is seeking a one off payment of up to $100,000 (based on 2019 TTV) for agencies to help with a range of costs, in recognition of the unique position the industry has been placed in by the government’s ongoing border closures. But the submission also embraces the grim reality that some industry businesses will not survive, with $5,000 in funding per agency requested for AFTA itself so it can undertake a formal financial assessment of the future viability of outlets — either on how they can continue to invest to remain in business after the pandemic, or whether it is better to make a “graceful exit”.
The budget will be announced in early October, and with its submission finalised, the Federation will now ramp up the pressure by a widespread activation of the industry. The political push will see AFTA members, suppliers and anyone else in the travel sector provided with resources and advice on how to engage with their local Federal Member of Parliament. “We’ll be sending out a script and documents, advising how to constructively set up a meeting with local members, a profile on the metrics of the travel agent sector and the work they do, and what’s in our budget submission,” Rudd said.
The documentation has now also been made available via the AFTA website, with the organisation urging industry-wide support. “The more the merrier, the more impact it will have,” the AFTA CEO said. And as well as the funding package, the messaging also reinforces to government the enormous impact that the ongoing border closures are having on the industry.
“We are working to make sure Government appreciates the impact that these ongoing closures have on our members, the travel sector, suppliers and the community in general,” Rudd said.
With many sectors of the economy seeking COVID-19 funding, there’s no certainty that the plan will succeed, he noted. “But this strategy will give us the best chance we can have of getting the dollars we need to get through this.”