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The Morrison-McCormack Government will provide a one-off payment to assist travel agents in recognition that many continue to work hard processing consumer refunds, whilst unable to trade due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan welcomed Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham providing further economic support to the travel industry and said the Federal Nationals Party had worked hard to advocate for this outcome.
Minister Birmingham today said most travel agents face the unique circumstance of having to refund existing bookings at the same time as they manage their operating models in the face of ongoing uncertainty about international travel.
“This one off payment recognises that travel agents are operating in an exceptional set of circumstances where most are having to refund last year’s income while continuing to work with no additional income,” he said.
“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.
“This one off payment is in addition to our significant economic support for the tourism and travel industry during the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to assist hundreds of thousands of tourism businesses across Australia.”
Mr Conaghan said the travel industry is important to his electorate of Cowper, which is why he met with local travel agents and pushed hard for the Federal Nationals to call for an industry-specific support package since September.
“Travel agents in my region and indeed right across Australia have been some of the hardest hit businesses due to COVID-19,” he said.
“We worked extremely hard to help secure this assistance package and I thank the Tourism Minister for allocating these one-off assistance payments of up to $100,000.”
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 $1,500 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.
Local travel agent James Cracknell, who owns travel agencies in Bellingen, Coffs Harbour, Inverell and Sawtell, said receiving a support package from the Australian Government was a huge relief.
“This package has given me hope that I should be able to retain my 19 staff and still be around when things eventually get back to normal,” Mr Cracknell said.
“It’s amazing to see what a fresh-faced local member can achieve. Pat really took up the baton for our industry and for the 40,000 Australians employed in it, I can’t thank him enough.”
Australian Federation of Travel Agents Chief Executive Officer Darren Rudd welcomed the Morrison-McCormack Government’s assistance package.
“We are delighted that the Coalition 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.”
Mr Birmingham – Benn Ayre 0428 342 325
Mr Conaghan – Liz Spry 0418 928 744