Life Travel Travel agents fear crash without support

Travel agents fear crash without support

Empty airports mean empty pockets for travel agents.
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Australia’s travel industry is at a tipping point and could see major job losses beyond the already substantial layoffs that have made it a shadow of its former self.

About 15,000 travel sector jobs have been lost since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, as some travel agents have seen their revenue plummet by up to 95 per cent.

In the past 18 months, travel agents have handed out $8 billion in credits and refunds to customers from hotels, airlines, cruise liners and tour operators with $2 billion still outstanding.

Australian Federation of Travel Agents chair Tom Manwaring says the industry is at a tipping point and “massive job losses” are looming unless there is more government support.

“Right now every agent is 18 months into near-zero income and the lack of cash flow clashes with the ongoing business and payroll costs,” he said.

The industry is also joining calls for the reinstatement of JobKeeper.

Massive job losses

Bicton Travel managing director Carole Smethurst says she had 29 staff before COVID and is now down to five full-time and three casual workers.

“JobKeeper would allow me to breathe,” she said.

Travelonline managing director Glenn Checkley says his weekly turnover has fallen by 80 per cent.

His business does not have the same access to financial support since it is located in Brisbane.

“We need JobKeeper and rent support back, even if it requires strict turnover reduction tests to ensure the waste of Jobkeeper 1.0 isn’t repeated. At the moment businesses like ours are the forgotten businesses,” he said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said COVID disaster payments were more flexible than JobKeeper.

“These payments at $600 and $375 are at the level JobKeeper was in the December quarter last year,” he told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.

“It’s available to casuals and it’s money that is going out the door as quickly as 40 minutes.”

-with AAP

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