for most businesses in the next fortnight, the industry is being urged to make its voice heard even louder. Lee Johns, a travel broker in Timaru, says all agents should ring their local talkback radio station today and tell their story and coincide with the presentation of the petition. ‘It doesn’t need to be long and people don’t need to get into personal details if they don’t want to. But we need to back up the proactive people in our industry and each of us has to push our own cause.’ Johns says agents should also make sure they front up at political meetings and ask questions.
Larry Lumsden, managing director of World Travellers – Christchurch City and Wanaka, says agents want to survive to complete the job of getting some $2 billion worth of refunds back to customers. But he says survival is getting tougher. ‘We can’t keep our doors open without income and we’ve had zero income since before lockdown – that’s five months. No business can survive without incoming revenue to pay overheads. ‘Yes, the Government subsidy has been hugely helpful, but that ends in a couple of weeks. Then what?’
He says travel agent owners have been pouring their own money in and taking out personal loans to keep their businesses alive, but that can’t carry on. ‘We need targeted government support to complete the task, bearing in mind we’re not even 30% through the refund process so it will take another six months. The Australian Government is supporting its travel agent industry until 31 March 2021. Targeted support for travel agents is a small investment by the Government to achieve $2 billion of refunds back to New Zealand.’