Andrew Olsen Andrew Olsen

TAANZ asks for 80%

The Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) has proposed to the government that the next 12-week assistance package is paid to all travel agent business owners on a per owner, per employee and contractor basis at 80% of the living wage (equalling $676.8 a week).

‘We don’t see any requirement to demonstrate intent to keep workers in jobs. By the time of the next package the workforce will have found its minimal capability level and the intent will naturally be to keep everyone on board for 12 weeks.’ TAANZ chief executive Andrew Olsen says the submission was presented to MBIE and then distributed to the PM and select MPs late last week. ‘Educated guesses on when New Zealand will be ready to open its doors and to whom is anywhere from three months and up. What is certain is that it is imperative to the rebound of tourism that travel agents get through intact,’ the submission says.

‘Our sector employs and contracts over 5000 full time workers and all reasonable efforts are being made to keep as many as possible employed. Air New Zealand needs us when it recommences operations. The international airlines that operate direct services to and from New Zealand are reliant on New Zealand’s travel agents to ensure their aircraft are full on the way out. Without a strong travel agency distribution network number of airlines will most likely dip by an estimated 30% capacity and the rebound of tourism will be impacted.

‘Infometrics data shows that the travel sector is the most qualified of the service sectors serviced by Service IQ. As it stands we already have a skill shortage in the sector. If we cannot keep most of this experience in the sector it will be lost and virtually irreplaceable,’ TAANZ adds. ‘We have empathy for the retail, hospitality and service industries that have been hit hard by lockdown but this is a finite and temporary disruption and it could reasonably be expected most will re-open a bit battered but ready. Not so for travel agents. Sales will be flat until such time as safe travel and tourism corridors open. It is out of their hands and in yours.’

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