Travel agents left out in the cold this Christmas

The Government continues to put at risk tens of millions of dollars’ worth of travel refunds whilst denying travel agents the support they need to get through the pandemic, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“it’s deeply disappointing that Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark has refused my request to make necessary changes to a scheme that remunerates travel agents as they process up to $1 billion worth of travel funds stranded offshore.  

“Travel agents have continued to work hard on behalf of their customers to secure refunds and credits for international travel cancelled due to Covid-19. Travellers have encountered unforeseen restrictions which have cost them dearly and put personal savings at risk,” Mr McClay says.

“Of an estimated $1 billion worth of bookings cancelled due to Covid-19, travel agents have recovered about half. However, $500 million worth of ticketed bookings for international travel are still to be returned. They are not remunerated by the travel companies or consumers for these refunds. 

“Travel agents will recall that it was only after our concerted pressure in Parliament before the election that the Government finally created the fund. Now that the election is out of the way the Government is again turning a deaf ear to a sector that was one of the first hit by Covid. These small businesses deserve better.

“Travel agents around the country have done everything asked of them and worked hard to recover bookings, often at significant personal and financial cost. The Labour Government must act quickly to support businesses and consumers if he wants outstanding bookings recovered.

“Mr Clark is playing the Grinch by refusing to restructure the reimbursement scheme. Travel agents deserve a break - it’s time for the Government to listen to the sector and make the necessary changes to their scheme.”