Hundreds of travel agents close down amid coronavirus pandemic, others barely survive

Miriam Henry was on a five-and-a-half-month travel adventure when she felt sick in late March.

“About a week out from coming home I started to get a small cough which I thought was something I normally get in the winter.”

Miriam’s travel agent Linda Forster quickly got her back home on one of the last flights before the international travel ban took full force.

“I arrived home on March 24, in the evening and I was in the hospital the next day,” Ms Henry said.

Confirmed as COVID-19, she had to spend 10 weeks in isolation before she got cleared with a negative test.

Ms Henry says she picked the virus up in Surrey, south-east England, and could have died if she hadn’t come back home to get proper medical care. She is now COVID-free.

“It’s been extremely stressful,” Ms Henry said.


“I thank Linda very much for making me come home because I’m quite worried what would have happened to me had I still been in England.

“I would have probably got into a worse state and got much sicker. She [her travel agent] was my life saver.”

Ms Henry is one of millions of Australians who travel overseas each year with the help of a travel agent — in 2018-19 more than 8.1 million Australians did.

When international travel bans lift, there’s no question Ms Henry will use her travel agent to help her navigate a whole new world of travel.

But the question is, can her agent and other agents survive in the meantime?

Lady with purple hair looks through albums.

Miriam Henry is hoping to get back to overseas travel as soon as she can, with the help of her travel agent.(Rudy De Santis)

Industry pleading for Government support

The industry is on the edge. Hundreds of travel agents have closed their shopfronts since the onset of the COVID pandemic, and many have exited the industry.

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) is the peak industry body for travel agents.

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