Travel TrendsWith front line staff numbers down by a third, the AFTA is requesting for the government's support.

Aussie travel agents cry out for help

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The Australian Federation of Travel Agents calls for ‘understanding of the value and plight of Australia’s travel sector’.
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents calls for ‘understanding of the value and plight of Australia’s travel sector’. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Travel Wild

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has launched a vigorous lobbying campaign calling for the Australian government to get behind the sector as it struggles with recovery from the Covid pandemic.

The association says most of its members are still navigating vacancy rates of 30% plus in front-line positions “and there needs to be a wide understanding of the value and plight of Australia’s travel sector”.

AFTA chief executive Dean Long, who has been lobbying politicians on behalf of the travel sector, says: “Advocacy that has impact requires not just flagging problems but also providing solutions.”

Among measures being sought by AFTA to relieve staff shortages are wage subsidies for trade apprenticeships, sponsorship of migrant workers in all skilled occupations and the temporary relaxation of student visa work limits so that international students can work more than 40 hours a fortnight until the workforce is replenished.

Dean said visitor economy occupations should be on the priority list for help “due to the acute skills and labour shortages the sector faces”.

And it is not only travel agencies who are short of staff. Sydney Airport continues to struggle to process outbound passengers through security lines.

Travellers were again hit by long delays this week with check-in queues snaking out of the airport terminal.

A spokesperson for Sydney airport said staff shortages, exacerbated by staff sickness, were to blame for the extended wait times.

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