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AFTA CEO Update - Wednesday 18 March

TO EVERYONE in the travel industry regardless of your position or role, I know and can feel with you just how difficult things are today, this week, right now. Coronavirus has brought with it a ferocious bite on the travel industry so deep and so aggressive that some of the industry will not make it out at the other end of this disaster.

These are grave and disturbing days for us all and the constant negative announcements appear to keep rolling every day at the moment. It is difficult to comprehend the amount of issues, stories, problems, challenges and drama that is before us all. I know that cashflow is in crisis. I know that cancellations and requests for cancellations are unprecedented and I know just how much pain everyone is in. I am sorry that it is the way it is. I wish there was a way to make this all go away today, but that is not a reality.

But, amidst all of this negativity and dismay I remain confident that together the travel industry will find ways to work together and support each other as best we can. AFTA is, and will continue to push governments to keep doing more and to do more that is better targeted at the travel industry. We are in the eye of this storm and while I may not be on every news channel talking about it, or every front page talking about how bad things are, I am talking, screaming, shouting, doing everything that is humanely possible to get cash flow issues addressed across a range of methods and from a range of sources.

I don’t have room to outline all the things that are being considered and proposed, what will be important is the outcome and how this will flow to help support travel businesses of all shapes and sizes. State governments are stepping up with a range of support - not everyone will benefit, but those that do, grab it.

The Federal Government has released what I call “the starter” package and I am absolutely positive that and a lot more support, financial support will flow from the Federal Government. Will it be what everyone thinks and wants? No way. But it will come and come soon and all of us at AFTA, the staff, the Board, our external advisors across economic, political, legal and industry are fully committed and focused on getting action to support the travel industry and in particular travel agents at this time, so please hang in there.

We at AFTA are doing all that we can to keep members and the broader industry advised of government and industry actions and decisions as they come to hand and will keep working every day to seek support that matters. I have said that there is a civil war on common sense going on in Australia and in the context of travel that can be demonstrated with, for example, why cancel a trip in Nov, Dec, or next year now, when nobody has a clear idea of if that is really necessary.

My view is that it is NOT necessary right now and I will beat that drum more and more over the coming days and weeks. Thanks to all who are sending the AFTA team messages of encouragement and support, we really appreciate that – we are all here for the industry.