Over the past 12 months, I have refunded (to date) a total of 1.5 Million Dollars, and still, pending is a further $150,000 owed to our travel agency. Not to mention the outstanding principal credit note value of approximately $120,000 for those who cannot receive a refund.
With many Airlines, Cruise Liners, Suppliers (Wholesalers) going into administration and insolvency, it's made the life of a travel agent extremely difficult.
The past year has seen thousands of jobs amongst the entire industry be made redundant, leaving people jobless, homeless (to the point, like myself) where we have been made to sell our homes and more to survive.
The industry now is at its knees!
The Government Grants that we are and had been offered over the year made us see some light at the end of the tunnel. However, these grants didn't come easy. They were coated with conditions, changes, and more conditions leaving us in a world of hurt.
The term, ‘carrots have been dangled’ at us has been thrown around, and rumours were being heard, but the reality is and was, leaving us to have sleepless nights, lots of tears and pain quicker than you can or could imagine.
Many agency owners and business locations have shut down and closed the door with no return. Many, including myself, have done just that. Fought countlessly with landlords to get a potential rent reduction or review, but the fight, still to this day, has left us all in tears wondering how we will be pay our outstanding debts?
With zero income, for now, 12 months for travel agents, wage loss into the hundreds of thousands and now the end of Job Keeper come 1st April, we will be left with nothing but hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt!
The Government recovery scheme, V2.0, has just been announced. However, they have failed to advise us on the most crucial factors, such as the criteria around 'how we will be legible' and 'who will qualify'. We have been advised of an SME (Small to Medium Business Enterprise) BUSINESS LOAN. This is at an interest rate up to 7.5% and backed by the Government at 80% and 20% by the banks. With a further 24 month "holiday repayment pause" and with a total of 10 years to repay this.
In theory, this sounds amazing. With zero income, International Borders CLOSED, and Domestic Borders opening and closing, how we are to make our money back is beyond mind-boggling.
The Government also announced that for those who had submitted applications for the grant released in December 2020 based on GST Turnover, we believe this had been calculated incorrectly and now have the opportunity to review this come 1st April.
Again, all these details sound amazing. However, the actual application process is not yet released, leaving agents in limbo, wondering when the information will become available and will it stand correct without further changes.
Like many, and including myself, if on the 1st April nothing will come to the forefront, I'll be lining up at the local Centrelink office and handing over the pending credit notes and refunds to my local MP's office.
I'll be giving them a list of all the VCAT notices that have been sent to me, legal threats and countless abusive phone calls which have been recorded and emails printed to state my point that TRAVEL AGENTS HAVE BEEN DOING IT SO HARD and why we are not heard is beyond disbelief.
As for where this leaves the travel industry, I don't know. I don't have the answers. With every day that passes, more Airlines have advised that they cease aircraft types and services within Australia. Many cruise lines and coach tour operators have cancelled services, not to mention the number of hotels that have closed their doors.
For those with pending refunds, I, like you are waiting. We are waiting for something to happen. To the point of constant chasing to try and rescue your money, principals involved don't return our emails. With your credit notes in limbo, border closures and more, who knows if you'll ever see that trip again that you have been waiting so long to go on.
Can I get a refund for you from your outstanding credit notes? The answer is no. I've tried. Unfortunately, the principal has their rules, and we must follow them, and the travel agent doesn't make these rules, we are just the middle man, and we are working for FREE.
I've been in the media spotlight for a few months, sharing my views and stating my opinions. Like many agents across the country, they have been lobby and fighting to keep our industry alive. Many MP's have spoken in Parliament for us, and this, we're ever so grateful.
Who will be here with an active business come on 1st April, who knows? With so much uncertainty lingering in the air, life for the travel agent right now is stressful and extremely trying on everyone!
Until then, all I can say is I hope the debts can be paid, at least.
This is the reality for us Travel AgentsThe new Govt package is great for Tourism, but not for us AGENTS.
OVER 12 months on and we are still doing it tough, real tough.
One year later we're still doing it tough. We are still battling and struggling.Come the 1st of April it is predicted that there will be 10% of the Travel Industry left.
We are fighting hard for our business to stay alive but we need your help! (Since the govt wont help).
- The loss is real
- The stress is real
- The unknown is real
- The mental game is real