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Travel industry on the road back

CONSUMER confidence is returning to the travel industry following the collapse of Ansett and the events of September 11, according to Travelworld regional manager WA Jenny Rimmer.

Travelworld was among the operators to feel the effects of the events of September 11 and the Ansett collapse, with sales dropping by between 30 and 40 per cent.

Ms Rimmer claims that, as of mid January, Travelworld sales had bounced back by about 20 per cent and she believes the group’s performance should return to last year’s pre-slump levels by July.

“I think that they (consumers) have put their holidays on hold for long enough and people are saying now, ‘well that’s it, we are going to go’, they are not going to let the terrorists win, they are just going to get on and do it,” she said.

Flightcentre managing director Daniel Gallagher said business was booming at Flightcentre, which has posted a 10 per cent increase in revenue in the six months to December 31 2001. In fact, 12 new staff have been employed this week in order to keep up with the demand.

“Our stores are flat out. Business is back to normal after a few quiet months after September 11,” he said.

“We had a couple of weeks where there were a few things to sort out, but generally our competitors suffered because they were aligned with Ansett and Air New Zealand, so as a result we picked up market share that we wouldn’t normally have got.”

STA Travel State manager WA/SA, Vanessa Weigall, said the marketplace was now quite different to previous years, as people were more conscious of safety in terms of where they travel, and who they were travelling with.

“People are now a little more inclined to take more organised holidays, so instead of just buying a ticket to their destination, they have a little more support when they get there,” she said.

“They are aware that if they are taking a tour, for example, they want to know that they are travelling with people who are fully on top of the political situation and that they are able to get them out quickly, should there be a problem.”

The outlook for the year ahead is positive, with all travel agents contacted by Business News claiming consumer confidence was returning and that they expected growth within their own organisations.

STA Travel already has opened one new store in the past few months, with plans for further expansion in the pipeline. Flightcentre also is looking to expand, with plans to open eight new stores across WA by the end of the financial year.

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