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AFTA welcomes National Cabinet four-step plan but highlights government support is critical

AFTA welcomes National Cabinet four-step plan but highlights government support is critical
July 3, 2021

Following National Cabinet’s announcement of their plan for returning Australia to ‘normal’ post COVID, the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has highlighted that with 15,000 jobs already gone in Australia’s travel sector, ongoing Government support is critical until international travel normalises.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday announced a four-step plan to get from the pre-vaccination phase – that is, where we are now – to treating the virus “like the flu”, to finally getting back to life without hotel quarantine and border restrictions.

The plan includes new freedoms including a return to home quarantine and the end of snap lockdowns.

Prime Minister Morrison would not put a timeline on the four phases of the plan, saying progression would be an “evidence-led process”.

National Cabinet’s 4-stage “return to normal” plan relies on vaccination thresholds being reached, the specifics of which are yet to be released. Given the Prime Minister’s statement that “it will be the end of the year before all Australians who want to be vaccinated will be”, international travel for most Australians is at least six months if not a year away.

Australia’s travel agents have played a critical role in supporting consumers navigate COVID lockdowns and border shutdowns. This has included successfully securing $7 Billion worth of credits and refunds on COVID-impacted travel from suppliers (hotels, airlines, tour operators, cruise lines etc) on behalf of their consumers. This is despite agents experiencing revenue falls of 90%-plus from the imposition of the international travel ban in March 2020.

AFTA Chair Tom Manwaring advises “we welcome the clarity that today’s National Cabinet 4-stage plan provides as to how Australia will reopen and return to normal.

“But the reality is that we have already lost approximately 15,000 jobs in our sector as a result of the COVID shutdown. These are highly-skilled and experienced individuals whom we simply can’t afford to lose and whom consumers are relying heavily on now to help navigate the multiple travel challenges created by COVID.

“What is clear is that ‘normal’ travel for most Australians is still some time off even if there is a significant upturn in vaccination rates. Until that happens, we need ongoing support for Australia’s travel agents and businesses who are performing such important work in supporting customers and whose skill and expertise will be so heavily relied on as Australians start travelling again given the complexities of COVID-travel. This is important support for the remaining 30,000 jobs and 3,000 travel agency and businesses.

“We are very grateful for the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program which has seen $258 million in support for Australian travel and tourism businesses including travel agents. But we need the support from Rounds 1 and 2 of the grants program to flow more quickly to those eligible agents and, given the ongoing pause in outbound travel, we need this support extended and supplemented urgently.”

 AFTA is supporting the travel agency community, travelling public and travel suppliers to the best of the nation's ability during this COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Prior to COVID, the industry has experienced year on year growth of 11% and maintained growth of 7.25% over the past five years
  • In 2018/19, Australians spent over $46 Billion on international travel, representing the largest import sector of the Australian economy
  • 70% of this international travel was booked through Australian travel agents
  • Each year travel agents collect taxes worth $1 billion and contribute $28 billion nationally to the economy
  • 71% of the sector are women

Related Articles

2nd July 2021 - Prime Minister Scott Morrison reveals four step plan to take Australia beyond the COVID-19 pandemic

25th June 2021 - Australian Federation of Travel Agents call for ongoing government support

23rd February 2021 - AFTA spotlights the need for JobKeeper extension for the tourism industry

23rd October 2015 - ATEC welcomes positive outcome to ChAFTA

1st July 2021 - Ecotourism Australia launches new version of Green Travel Guide

30th June 2021 - United Nations report says COVID-19 impact on tourism could deal $4 trillion blow to global economy

23rd June 2021 - Environment, parks and tourism secure new funds in NSW budget

23rd June 2021 - GlobalData forecasts Australian domestic tourism to reach record high by 2025

22nd June 2021 - Australia’s export tourism industry asks for clarity on reopening plans

15th June 2021 - Tripadvisor research reveals COVID-19 vaccines driving global tourism demand

9th June 2021 - TTA Chairman highlights need for Australia to look at other countries’ approach to post-COVID tourism

27th May 2021 - Australian Tourism Export Council calls for Prime Minister for roadmap to open borders

10th May 2021 - Clarity on government support called for by export tourism businesses

6th May 2021 - Tourism industry keen to partner with New Zealand Government on revitalisation

3rd May 2021 - Research highlights trans-Tasman bubble likely to benefit New Zealand tourism more

20th June 2021 - Vaccines to play a key role in leisure industry recovery

2nd June 2021 - Theme park tickets and airline rewards offered as incentives for vaccination uptake

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