Australia’s Aviation Industry will only recover fully if Australia has a healthy outbound travel sector and that won’t happen without ongoing Government Support for Australia’s travel agents and businesses, says AFTA chief Dean Long.
Earlier this week, the Federal Government announced its Aviation Recovery Framework with an additional $109.6 Million of support on top of the $5.3 Billion in assistance already provided.
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) says this announcement, without the extension of support to outbound tourism, raises concerns considering our sectors face the same challenges and our success is intrinsically linked.
“Without a healthy outbound market, it’s bloody impossible to have a healthy inbound market,” said Dean Long, AFTA CEO.
“It’s great to allocate funds to getting more tourists back to Australia and to keeping airlines flying which is where the bulk of Government support has gone but without a vibrant outbound market with Australians filling those planes and cruise ships heading back out of Australia, the economics simply aren’t there.”
Over 70% of all international travel out of Australia is still booked through a travel agent or business, as Australians recognise the value of expertise when considering the complexities and challenges of international travel.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the reliance on travel professionals, as consumer uncertainty increasingly becomes a barrier to recovery for our sector and aviation alike.
AFTA says, fundamentally, the recovery of inbound travel will be impaired so long as Australia’s outbound travel remains depleted, as the economics for a vibrant inbound market rely on Australians filling the planes and cruises heading out of Australia.
The organisation believes the Federal Government’s current inconsistent allocation of funds to the different sectors of the Australian travel market risks undermining the much-appreciated intention to support Australian businesses and jobs.
AFTA has proposed to the Federal Government a Travel Sector Skills Retention and Impaired Recovery Package that would total $150 million and make use of the $60 million that remains unallocated as a part of the Consumer Travel COVID-19 Support Grant.
A third of the jobs in the sector have already gone, with approximately 30,000 highly skilled travel professionals and 3000 businesses remaining at a time when consumers and corporate demand are rapidly rising.
While the sector will continue to strive to offer Australians a high level of support, it will struggle without the staffing and training that can only be attained through a dedicated skills package.
“We urgently need Government support to rebuild our skills and workforce because we don’t have the income and won’t have for any time soon,” Long stated.
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