The COVID-19 pandemic has not only been a public health emergency; it has also been an economic and operational crisis for the travel industry.
As your trade association, ASATA has been working around the clock to help Travel Agents get through this crisis by formulating a comprehensive response and recovery strategy. A swift, effective response not only helps mitigate today’s risks, but will also lay the foundation for a more robust recovery of our sector.
As part of the strategy, ASATA has represented its members through various lobbying initiatives. We lobbied IATA for fair policies around refunds and cancellations as well as for a deferral of the monthly remittance in BSP-ZA. We also held discussions with SAA, DIRCO and the Government to address matters such as refunds, repatriation and business relief.
In addition, to offer members further in-depth support, ASATA created a dedicated COVID-19 website with much-needed information and resources which included a number of Live Webinars covering topics such as UIF TERS and cybersecurity. We also created business support resources as well as a cancellation and refunds toolkit to empower agents to respond to customers professionally and consistently.
In an attempt to contribute to the empowerment, upskilling and professional development of Travel Agents, we rolled out The ASATA Professional Programme Campaign.
Unfortunately, confusion around refunds and cancellations damaged the reputation of the Travel Agent community to some degree. ASATA implemented several activities to not only deal directly with consumer complaints but also launched a comprehensive media lobbying plan to mitigate any negative press coverage in terms of cancellations and refunds. We also set up a Travel with Peace of Mind Campaign to assist this process.
Reliable and up-to-date information is critical during times of a crisis. ASATA ensured we support our members by not only delivering information which addressed Travel Agents’ most pressing questions on key topics, but by also keeping them fully informed through regular newsletters, social media updates, infographics and website updates. We conducted in-depth industry research to ascertain the state of the industry in times of COVID and the level of business readiness to further support these initiatives.
Finally, ASATA actively contributed to the development of the TBCSA’s health and safety protocols, which were accepted by Government and are being currently rolled out.
For a full overview of ASATA’s activities during this time, please click here.