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Travel agents caught in Catch-22


In order to meet the growing demand for travel, Australia needs another 10,000 travel agents over the next year to 18 months, said the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) CEO Dean Long. 

 

BUT — and it’s a big but — if that demand doesn’t come quickly enough, “there's still another 10,000 jobs at risk," he warned. 

 

 

Windsong Travel had a staff of 22. That went down to five over the course of the pandemic and now owner James Cracknell is struggling to find staff to meet demand.

 

Despite feeling “positive” about open borders, Cracknell told the ABC his “biggest issue is trying to staff our agencies, because over the past two years we've had to let a lot of staff go”.

 

"Getting experienced people to come back to our industry is going to be a tough."

 

"As owners and also employers we're all apprehensive because we're not sure — in three months' time is there going to be another variant?”

 

Former Windsong employee Sharnee Smith is one of what is believed to be 15,000 travel agents who lost their jobs since the arrival of covid. 

 

"It's basically like a switch flicked and that was it," she told the ABC.

 

"We went from a bustling, busy agency with three full-time staff to nothing."

 

Despite borders opening and an uptick in travel bookings, a lack of uncertainty has kept Smith from returning to her old job.

 

"We don't know whether there's security in the industry,” she said. 

 

"I'd work for them again in a heartbeat if I knew that it wasn't all going to happen again."

 

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Published: 28 February 2022

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