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AFTA push for support escalates

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) says the immediate and widespread global impact of the latest COVID variant, Omicron, on travel is just the latest opportunity to reinforce the critical importance of travel experts and the need for ongoing government support of the sector.


AFTA Chair Tom Manwaring and CEO Dean Long were in Canberra last Friday for high level briefings with Government including Deputy Prime Minister the Hon Barnaby Joyce, National Party Ministers and Members of Parliament including long-standing sector champion the Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan.


The face to face meetings provided the key insights to cement AFTA’s approach to secure additional support for members. The Government’s priorities are now on skills and workforce renewal and AFTA’s advocacy has been updated to reflect this. 


AFTA will provide members with an updated toolkit to drive these critical conversations with local Federal Members of Parliament.


“The domino effect of border closures for Australia and across the world as a result of the Omicron variant is the greatest impact on our clients confidence since March 2020,” AFTA CEO Dean Long said. 


“This is directly impacting you by increasing your work for in most cases no additional revenue.


“The speed of Governments’ decisions to lock out travellers with less than 12 hours notice is for many of our clients another reason to postpone travel.”


AFTA has pushed for “critical and urgent” ongoing support until at least mid-2022, Long said. 


Long justified AFTA’s lack of public lobbying saying that it has “deliberately held back” until AFTA has “better understood the Government’s election focus”.


“While we know this has been frustrating for members, for our sector to have the best chance at getting additional support, we need to be playing on the same field as Government.


“This is why we have held back on our grassroots activation in recent weeks – we needed to make sure that we have the most impact possible.”


“Our ask is for a support package of an additional $130M plus any remaining funds which we understand is around $60M from the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Grant program,” Long said. 


“Our focus will be funding for a skills retention and attraction package for retention of skilled employees and attracting new employees.”


AFTA has updated the member lobbying toolkit including details of this and will be sharing that with members shortly. 


“We need you all out there briefing your local Member of Parliament using the language and messaging in the toolkit. We will also be ramping up mainstream media in support.”

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