Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, has welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement of a one-off payment for local travel agents in recognition that many continue to work hard processing consumer refunds, whilst unable to trade due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It followed advocacy by Mr Joyce, who earlier this year hosted a roundtable for local travel agents to discuss avenues for assistance.
“These are local businesses doing their best to get through this economic crisis but due to their unique circumstances, had slipped through the cracks for existing financial assistance,” Mr Joyce said.
“Clearly, this payment is no silver bullet but it’s at least some relief for the half dozen or so New England travel agents who I spoke with and made their concerns known to the Minister.
“Especially local operators which would normally rely on the increased trade from events since cancelled such as the 2021 Tamworth Country Music Festival.
“Travel agents can be assured I will continue to lobby for assistance for the industry.”
Under the $128 million scheme, eligible travel agents with a turnover of between $50,000 and $20 million a year will be able to apply for the one-off payment.
Payments will be scaled, with a minimum payment of $1500 for a business with a turnover of $50,000 up to a maximum payment of $100,000 for a business with a turnover of $20 million.
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the one-off payment recognised that travel agents were operating in an exceptional set of circumstances where most were having to refund last year’s income while continuing to work with no additional income.
“Providing further assistance to travel agents in the current environment will help keep them afloat at a time when they are continuing to hold travel credits for consumers who have previously cancelled travel,” Minister Birmingham said.
Australian Federation of Travel Agents Chief Executive Officer Darren Rudd welcomed the Morrison Government’s assistance payments for travel agents.
“We are delighted that the Morrison Government has acknowledged the unique and challenging circumstances that Travel Agents have been confronted with,” Mr Rudd said.
“This package will help to ensure the sectors sustainability to assist Australian travellers with the new world of COVIDSafe travel.”