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“We are the forgotten businesses”: travel agent

Glenn Checkley is the managing director of Brisbane based travel agency, Travelonline, which employs 25 people. Like the rest of the travel industry, the last 18 months have not been easy for Checkley and navigating the current lockdowns in some parts of Australia — without JobKeeper — has been particularly hard. 


“Since the lockdowns in Sydney were announced, our weekly turnover has fallen by over 80% and more importantly, the seasonally important June/July school holiday period was totally wiped out,” he said. 


“Hundreds of bookings for families from Sydney and Melbourne heading to the Whitsundays, Port Douglas and Queenstown NZ, were all cancelled.”   


But because Travelonline is based in Brisbane, it is not eligible for the COVID disaster payment.


“I’m sure we are not the only business based in a non-lockdown area who are severely impacted and not receiving support,” Checkley said.  


“We need JobKeeper and rent support back, even if it requires strict turnover reduction tests to ensure the waste of Jobkeeper 1.0 isn’t repeated. 


“At the moment businesses like ours are the forgotten businesses.”   


According to Australian Federation of Travel Agents chair Tom Manwaring, travel agents are in a worse position now than they were last year. 


“Which ever way you dice it, Australia’s travel agents and businesses are doing it tough and it’s definitely tougher than this time last year when JobKeeper provided structural support in protecting jobs.”


With the constant start/stop of travel flow, travel agents are more in need than ever, and Manwaring is calling for “wider and ongoing government support to be able to support the massive effort being put in right around this country by our travel agents and businesses”.


Aussie travel agents have so far secured an estimated $8 billion worth of credits and refunds for  their clients but there’s still an estimated $2 billion outstanding. This is time-consuming support which agents are providing with little to no income.


“Right now every agent is 18 months into near zero income and the lack of cash flow clashes with the ongoing business and payroll costs,” Manwaring said. 


“We were the first hit and will be the last to recover and, without support, a tipping point on massive job losses is looming. 


“JobKeeper provided a simple, equitable and meaningful solution to protect jobs.”   



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