The Australian Federation of Travel Agents has this morning affirmed that it continues to work with other key influencers to ensure the Government and Austrade address “multiple flaws” in the implementation of the $128 million travel industry support package.
An AFTA Board Meeting late last week confirmed the organisation’s approach to raising government awareness of the desperate plight of travel agents, travel wholesalers and tour operators and the need for tailored support.
“AFTA continues to work closely with Austrade and the Federal Government on refining the implementation details. The AFTA Board notes that while AFTA had repeatedly requested the opportunity to review and comment on the detail of the Federal Government’s historic $128 million support package and the implementation approach, that was not provided,” according to a statement from the Federation.
“As a result there are multiple flaws in the approach which are creating unnecessary confusion and strain at the end of an already challenging year.”
AFTA Chairman Tom Manwaring said the political commitment to supporting the industry, especially small businesses at the lower end of the tier, is yet to fully translate into tangible practical support.
Despite the unprecedented industry-specific package, “the design of the program has failed in its noble purpose,” he said.
“Many of these small businesses that desperately need support are in fact not eligible, especially at the lower end. While this support package is intended to work in tandem with other measures to help a bridge back to business on the other side of COVID-19, the reality is that even for those few businesses that actually qualify, the support barely covers two months of costs – and in fact for the lower end businesses, the proposed support equates to just two weeks,” he said.
Manwaring noted that on current Federal Budget assumptions travel agents have 18 months from 01 January 2021 before they can restore their cashflow.
“Until international travel returns, the reality is that, without ongoing support these businesses located across regional and rural Australia as well as in our cities and suburbs cannot and will not survive.
“The eligibility criteria, entry threshold tests and grant size of this $128 million tailored program must change, especially at the lower tiers, to offer any hope to the 40,000 people relying on the survival of travel agents for employment,” Manwaring concluded.
The AFTA Board meeting also confirmed CEO Darren Rudd in his