The Australian Travel Industry Association (ATIA) has announced its intention to close its Sydney offices.
The association is the main body for the industry, which represents the travel industry’s major travel brands including Airbnbs, Expedia, Priceline and Hilton.
“This is the culmination of a concerted campaign by the media and industry that has led to an ongoing media blackout of the issue and has damaged our reputation and brand as a global destination,” ATIA president David Wren said.
“We have seen some great stories, but we have seen it all.
We have seen people go from luxury to being millionaires, and we have also seen some of the very poorest and most vulnerable Australians who have been affected by this crisis.”
News24.au asked the ATIA for comment, but the organisation has not responded.ATIA’s decision to close the Sydney offices comes amid an ongoing Fairfax Media investigation into the “unfair and deceptive” practices of a handful of luxury travel agents.
“As a result of our investigation we have taken the necessary steps to address the unfair and deceptive practices identified by the ABC’s investigation, and have taken action to implement a process to identify those who may have been involved in the actions of some of our agents,” ATI president David Watters said.ATI is also taking steps to ensure that its agents comply with all relevant legislation and policies, he said.
He said that while it was not “unusual” for a group of travel agents to be under investigation, it was the case of the ATI’s members.
“In our view the way they operate in relation to the Australian travel industry, and indeed the Australian public, has become so distorted by these types of actions that we would expect a fair and transparent process to be followed in order to identify any wrongdoing,” Mr Watters told News24 in a statement.
The company’s CEO, Michael O’Keefe, has been criticised for his handling of the case, which is now being investigated by a parliamentary committee.
“I can assure you, it’s been a very stressful time for us,” Mr O’Malley said in a Facebook post.
“It’s been very difficult to watch the entire thing unfold.”
What has happened over the last two months has left us feeling utterly and utterly betrayed by our company and our board, and our employees.
“All I can do is apologize to my staff, customers, and the public.”
News16.com has contacted the Sydney office of the Australian Travel Agency and the Sydney branch of the Travel Authority.
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