The government has been accused of ignoring the importance of the travel industry and taxing travel agents into depression.
Speaking at the 10th National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) in Sydney on Saturday night, Jayson Westbury, CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), launched a stinging attack on the power brokers in Canberra.
“Outbound travel in Australia is alive and well and much to the amazement of the commonwealth government we continue to be successful in everything we do, without much help at all from them,” he told the 1,500 strong audience at the International Conference Centre.
“In fact, the commonwealth government continues to find ways to tax us into depression, but we continue to stand tall, we simply say – get out of our way and allow us to thrive and continue to grow despite what you may throw at us.”
Westbury said AFTA would continue to be a strong voice for travel agents, who remain a force to be reckoned with.
“Travel agents aren’t going anywhere and the sooner the analysts, journalists, futurists and dooms dayers cotton onto this, we could all do so much better together. There is no question that the travel agent in Australia has a strong and prosperous future for decades to come.”
The glittering ceremony saw AFTA celebrate its 60th birthday with more than 38 awards presented across a wide variety of categories. Winners included Helloworld Limited, who was awarded ‘Best Travel Agency Group’, Magellan Travel Group won ‘Best Non-Branded Travel Agency Group’ and Kingscote Travel SA/NT was heralded ‘Australia’s Favourite Travel Agency’ after receiving the most consumer votes in the People’s Choice category.
Topdeck Travel took out the competitive category of ‘Best Tour Operator – International’, APT won ‘Best River Cruise Operator’ while Royal Caribbean International was named both ‘Best Cruise Operator Domestic Deployment’ and ‘International Deployment’. Elizabeth Hutchison from Air New Zealand won ‘Best Sales Executive Industry Supplier’ for the second year running and Stefania Lasek took out the 2017 Emirates Travel Consultant Scholarship.
Guests were entertained by ARIA Award nominee and multi-platinum selling recording artist Ricki-Lee Coulter, while major sponsor Qantas gave six people return flights to London to experience their new Dreamliner service.
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