AFTA slams “misreporting” on COVID-19 refunds and credits

"Travel agents are being unfairly blamed in the current landscape"

AFTA has stepped up its defence of travel agents and their handling of refunds and credits through the coronavirus crisis to counter “misreporting” in mainstream media.

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents says it has beefed up awareness of its campaign ‘The Facts on Travel Agents and Refunds’ as the organisation continues to address correcting errors in the media on a story by story basis.

“Travel Agents are being unfairly blamed in the current landscape of an unprecedented volume of cancellations, changes and enquiries to change travel plans due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and restrictions government has imposed on the population and travel,” the elevated campaign says.

The widening of the campaign involves a newsroom brief distributed to every mainstream TV, print and radio newsroom in Australia as part of the ongoing awareness-raising campaign.

Mediums include (TV) A Current Affair; 7 News, Sunrise, Today, The Project, SBS Insight; (print) The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, Good Weekend, Sunday Mail; (radio) Macquarie talkback news: 2GB, 3AW, 4BC, 6PR, NTS; (online) Mashable, Junkee, Unilad, Crikey, Pedestrian, Mamamia, 9News.com.au and many more outlets and channels.

“We continue to work hard with supportive media, both trade and mainstream, to showcase the fact that travel agents right around Australia are going above and beyond to support clients and non-clients,” said Jayson Westbury, Chief Executive AFTA.

Jayson Westbury, AFTA Chief Executive

“We have been selective and strategic in this approach, choosing influential media with as broad a footprint as possible so that we get maximum impact. We have also been very careful not to give oxygen to stories or outlets where there is a clear agenda to misrepresent a situation including publishing first and seeking clarification and comment post-publication. Where this has happened (and thankfully this is limited), we have advised the facts and made a formal complaint to the Press Council,” Westbury stated.

“However, mainstream media, like so many sectors, has also been decimated as a result of COVID-19 and there is increasing reliance on freelance journalists, especially in straight news reporting, who aren’t necessarily experienced or aware of the facts. We need to continue to be strategic in our approach so that what we do make the lives of agents easier.”

AFTA said travel agents across Australia should know the organisation is doing all it can to hold strong on a positive media strategy at this dreadful time of COVID-19.

The ramped up campaign concludes with optimism, stating: “This pandemic has brought hardship to many sectors, but none more so than the travel industry. Travel agents will be here for Australian consumers when you need a well-deserved holiday when this pandemic ends. Keep travel dreaming.”

To read the media update click here.

AFTA says it will continue to “put truth on the table with media at every opportunity and will continue to do this for as long as this COVID-19 pandemic continues”.

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