Dr David Beirman is an Adjunct Fellow of Management & Tourism at the University of Technology, Sydney. He has also authored the book Tourism Crises and Destination Recovery.
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AFTA’s decision to rebrand itself as ATIA (Australian Travel Industry Association) is a good idea in principle. However, a close look at the extent of its representation of the Australian travel industry shows that it falls well short of the branding. In fact, even AFTA’s CEO, Dean Long has acknowledged that the branding is more aspirational than actual.
ATIA can legitimately claim to represent travel agents, consolidators, some wholesalers (many of whom are also members of CATO and ATEC, neither of whom seemed to have signed onto ATIA) and there is some affiliation with GDS providers such as Worldspan, Amadeus and Sabre. The idea of inviting individual members is good, but will those individuals actually make ATIA more representative? Maybe – but its too early to say.
Travel Agents are a significant part of the Australian travel industry BUT THEY ARE NOT THE TOTALITY OF THE INDUSTRY.
Sadly this silo mentality among various industry sectors is a barrier to the sort of collaboration that ATIA rightfully calls for but is rarely achieved. During COVID the only Australian tourism body which really brought all sectors together was Tourism Australia.
The concept of a genuinely representative and collaborative association of the Australian Travel Industry would be very welcome as the industry’s ability to be a powerful lobby group for government support is undermined by its fragmentation.
A quick look at the industry’s key sectors shows that an association that includes all or most of these sectors would be needed for a genuine ATIA to exist and realise the collaborative outcomes that ATIA claims it wants to achieve.
- Transport: Airlines, Airports, Rail operators, Car rental providers, coach lines,
- Accommodation Providers: Hotels, Motels, Pubs, Caravan Parks, Airbnb, Guest Houses, Backpacker accom.
- Attractions and attraction operators
- Cruising companies and CLIA members
- Ferry and sailing operators
- Tour guides
- Outbound and Inbound Tour Operators
- International, National, State, Local Destination marketing organisations.
- Event and and convention venues
- Event and Convention operators
- Government Tourism Ministries at all tiers of government
- Government Depts such as DFAT, Customs, Defence, Passport Office
- Restaurants and cafes
Intermediaries and retailers:
- Travel agents and business travel managers
- GDS companies
- Tech interface companies such as Tramada
- Inbound and Outbound Wholesale Tour Operators
- Visitor Information Offices
- Online booking operators
- Travel good retailers
- Financial institutions and currency exchange providers
- Travel insurers
- Special interest tourism associations
Training and education:
- University and higher Ed. schools of tourism (CAUTHE)
- TAFE and Vocational training providers
- Private travel and hospitality colleges
- In-service training provided by travel agencies, wholesalers and airlines.
- Secondary Schools
- Tourism Training Australia
- Australian Travel Careers Councils
- Industry online and print publications (such as Travel Daily and travelBulletin)
- Australian Society of Travel Writers – TV, Newspaper, Magazine and Radio travel sections and programs devoted to travel.
- Travel related blogs
I can assure you that the above list is far from complete but based on the above, ATIA represents a very tiny slice of the Australian travel industry and I would have to conclude that based on the above, the brand of ATIA is aspirational and misleading.
While I’m sure this is not intended by the leaders of ATIA, an objective view suggests that the brand should be the subject of a re-think.
Governments will not be fooled into throwing money at an organisation whose name suggests a grandiose exercise in smoke and mirrors. With AFTA they knew exactly who and what they were dealing with. To the credit of Dean Long and his predecessors, AFTA gained significant government support for its members during and after COVID-19 without the need to engage in the fiction that it represented the entire tourism industry.
A genuine ATIA would operate on the Canadian model of TIAC (Tourism Industry Association of Canada) which actually does include most of the key sectors of the Canadian travel industry and has done so for many years. I hope that ATIA’s aspirations matches Canada’s reality.