Call for support of travel agents

Headshot of Jackson Barrett
Jackson BarrettBusselton Dunsborough Times
Camera IconCredit: Spool Photography/Tourism Western Australia, Spool Photography

Despite the State’s move to a controlled border, South West travel agents are still struggling, and now the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman is calling on the Federal Government for assistance.

In September, the State Government announced a historic relief package for the industry, making up to $10,000 available for agents.

The State Government’s borders arrangements loosened last month, with travellers from Tasmania, Queensland, the Northern Territory and briefly South Australia, able to arrive in WA provided they met health-related criteria.

Despite the move, Cathie Rice Travel co-owner and managing director Crandon Keddie said very little had changed.

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“Not much has changed for us at this point, we have had hardly any new bookings,” he said.

“We are still mainly chasing up and processing refunds.”

The Ombudsman said businesses were drowning and needed help.

“These travel agents, most of whom are small businesses, need help now,” Ombudsman Kate Carnell said.

“Our survey showed that the situation is dire for these travel agents — 98 per cent of which told us their revenue has plunged more than 75 per cent since restrictions were introduced in March.

“More than half told us their revenue is down by over 100 per cent meaning they have been paying out more in refunds, including previously made revenue, than they are selling in new businesses.

“It is clear these small businesses are in a world of pain and a support package should be announced as a matter of urgency.”

Mr Keddie said he was hoping it would not be too long before business started picking up.

“There has been some good news in regards to vaccines and we hope that domestic travel will increase in the new year and we hopefully have some bubble destinations by the middle of next year,” he said.

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