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AFTA set to launch ‘travel bubble’ alliance

Organisation now in the ‘confidence business’

The importance of travel bubbles to the travel industry (and consumers) can’t be understated right now, with their creation a potential lifeline for countless businesses. 



With this in mind, the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) intends to launch a new alliance that aims to advocate for the opening of borders through science-led liberation. 


“We are about to launch, hopefully, an alliance with other like-minded peak organisations both in the [travel] sector, and to be frank, straddling the sector, and others, that looks at a science and medical-led liberation of international travel bubbles,” Darren Rudd told Traveltalk in his first interview as AFTA CEO. 


What that means, according to Rudd, is working with countries with “like-minded epidemiological patterns” of coronavirus. 


“So basically, do you have an environment that has not had a pattern of exponential spread versus managed spread?” he said. 


“Essentially, what is the common sense and realism applied to international travel bubbles from a medical perspective?” 


Queenstown, NZ


While a Trans-Tasman bubble with New Zealand seems a realistic prospect for the future, Rudd urges caution when it comes to expanding that bubble. 


“My main concern there is the medical infrastructure in some of the South Pacific islands. And have Australia and New Zealand done a thorough enough job of evaluating the medical assets available versus the threat? That needs to be balanced up as well,” said Rudd, who believes that bubbles are ultimately essential for the survival of the travel agency sector. 


Along with the issue of travel bubbles, the AFTA boss spoke of the need to raise the travel agency organisation’s profile at various levels of government as well as lifting confidence among members and consumers. 


“What our job is, is to make sure there is enough thought leadership around the discussion of ‘if we do fly, is there a degree of confidence associated with that?’” he said.


“So I suggested to my board the other day that we are actually not in the travel business at this point in time, we’re in the confidence business.”


Would you feel confident travelling outside of Australia, but within a bubble, in the near future?


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Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 10 August 2020

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