Billions in cancelled holidays

The Towner family holidayed in Broome after their European "trip of a lifetime" was cancelled

Billions in cancelled holidays

Travel agents decimated

Posted on 11.08.2020

Australians have cancelled holidays worth an estimated $10 billion, leaving travel agents decimated.

Marcus Towner and his family were meant to be sunning themselves on a European beach right now. Their five-week itinerary included Croatia, Italy and the Greek islands before culminating in the wedding of friends in London.

Instead, like so many other Australians, they are waiting to recoup thousands of dollars owed to them in refunds for their holiday which was cancelled in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.

It’s an ongoing process.

“Our trip really was the trip of a lifetime,” he said.

“For us it was self-funded long service leave.

“The impetus was a friend’s wedding in London, but we thought there’s no point going all that way without a having a look around, so it was five weeks in Europe.

“We decided to go business class, so it was as good as it was ever going to get and we were very much looking forward to it.”

But when coronavirus began sweeping across the globe, it quickly became apparent that their grand holiday, which was set to cost more than $35,000, would have to be scrapped.

“We were devastated because we were so looking forward to it, and being self-employed it’s not just something you can do on a whim,” Mr Towner said.

By a sheer stroke of luck, their travel insurance policy did not exclude pandemics, and their travel agent Christine Ross has been working hard to help them get refunds on hotels and flights.

“Even after all that, we’re still waiting for a fairly large sum of money to come back for our flights,” he said.

Key points:

  • An estimated $10 billion in holiday bookings have been cancelled
  • Consumer bodies have received thousands of complaints
  • Travel agents are spending hours chasing refunds to no avail

Complaints up five-fold

In 2018-19 more Australians went overseas than ever before — ABS data shows 11.2 million short-term overseas trips were taken, most of them (57 per cent) by holidaymakers. Coronavirus has clipped our wings severely.

It’s believed billions of dollars are currently tied up in unused holiday credits and yet-to-be issued refunds, and customers are not happy. Read More

Refunds could take 12 months: AFTA

Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) chair Tom Manwaring estimated at least $10 billion had been spent on holidays that were not able to be taken.

He said travel agents were dealing with millions of cancelled bookings, from airfares to hotels, tours and rental car hire, and it could take up to 12 months before the process was completed.

“You’re dealing with 52 international carriers into Australia, 60-70 cruise liners, hundreds of different hotel options — so all of those individual businesses have their own individual ts and cs [terms and conditions], ” Mr Manwaring said.

“And then you have the ts and cs of the agent and the online agent on top of that.  Read More

We’re unlikely to return to the skies before 2024, industry predicts

Latest figures from Tourism Research Australia (TRA), calculated before the latest Victorian shutdown, are not encouraging for the industry.

“For the next 12 months, the domestic tourism market is estimated to be around $84 billion in 2020-21, a fall of around $23 billion when compared to the last uninterrupted time period (2019),” a TRA spokeswoman said.

“This also assumes the loss of the entire international market, which provided more than $31 billion in tourism spend in Australia in 2019.

“The total loss to the tourism industry could be about $55 billion, or almost 40 per cent of the industry’s revenue.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts the airline industry will not return to pre-coronavirus levels until at least 2024.

Andrea Mayes
ABC News





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