A 2021 New Year message from Jane Johnston, CEO of Travel with a Cause, Inc (TWAC)
~ Reflecting back and looking forward ~
This year I enter my 40 th year in the travel industry and 15 years since the inception of Travel with a Cause as Australia’s only not-for-profit charitable travel agency.
Cofounder Richard Parker & myself had a vision to use our agency as a blessing. Our aim was to enhance the lives of others less fortunate and we have been able to do miraculous things through this medium like saving Reef & Rainforest in Fiji and 10 villages, providing computers and laptops to schools in developing countries and sending out mosquito nets and lifestraws (water purifiers) with travellers to keep them safe and to leave behind as a good-will legacy.
The travel industry is a global industry and therefore directly experiences all international events and phenomena, good and sad. TWAC has had its share of “wows” in the past, each having an impact on us and our staff.
Sars and Bird Flus
Twin Towers 9/11
The Ansett collapse
The Port Arthur Massacre
The Arab spring
Global financial crises
But nothing could quite prepare travel agencies for 2020, the only time the world wide travel sector closed down completely, something that did not happen even through the world wars. The arrival of the COVID-19 virus shut down our cities, our livelihoods, how we conduct our businesses, the ability to travel to loved ones, take a holiday, or have proper wedding parties or funerals.
It has not been easy, but TWAC has survived and in fact thrived through the year. It has taken everything we have in terms of experience, innovation, resources, and risks.
It all start and ends with people. And like all excellent organisations, it is top down. We have a strong corporate governance structure of varied and seasoned specialists in finance, sales, marketing, the travel sector, legal, and HR. Our sales staff have between them decades of direct local and international travel experience, managing corporate accounts, complex group tours, sensitive family arrangements, and complex itineraries, all with personal experience in the places and things our customers want to do. Our marketing is among the industries most up-to-date digital and social media promotion, multi award winning and effective. We have been nominated best travel agency in Hobart 3 years running and some of our staff have been finalists in small business surveys.
But this would not have been enough in this terrible year that was 2020.
In concept the solution was easy and staring us in the face. If the only travel that was possible was statewide, that is what we have to provide and promote to our customer base. Again if much of one’s business is focussed say on cruises or international group tours, that does not help much.
TWAC has always been proud of our beautiful island state. We push it and promote it to visitors all the time. Our insight was to transform all of that effort into getting locals to experience, some maybe for the first time in years, to go out and enjoy what overseas and interstate people pay a fortune to see. It is reminiscent of the Sco Mo’s “Where the Bloody Hell Are you!” ad campaign when he was with Tourism Australia. ---> www.dailymail.co.uk So what did we do? We conducted 21 volunteer tours from 20 Jun 2020 til the end of the year. Bus loads of vibrant, excited, keen people helping the state. Yes we went from zeros to heros in survival mode! Concentrating on our ethos of being environmentally friendly to our stressed universe, and sending volunteers to help native flora defeat introduced species, nurture animal rescue efforts, plant trees for swift parrots, assist worthwhile local businesses in their survival plans, and many, many worthy projects.
So even though 2021 is not looking great to say the least in the Northern Hemisphere, lets keep exploring our own backyards until things improve and we can again start visiting other parts of our wonderful planet. Thanks to everyone for patiently enduring the relatively brief lockdown, which cleared our state of the virus and allowed us to at least locally get back to normal. The results are unequivocal.
A special mention for our fabulous multicultural team, throughout the last 2 or 3 years staff from Philippines, China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Butan, India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, UK, Sweden, and even Tasmania, and to the board members Richard Parker, Allan Branch, Amber Tsai and myself who have had endless meetings this year navigating our way back to you our clients.
We all look at the world with different eyes now, so here’s praying for a more caring society with a gentler footstep!
Now we have a beautiful new location in the heart of the tourism activity in Hobart, as well as our original inner city Victoria Street office, thanks to our kind and considerate landlords. Come visit us at Brooke St Pier Friday to Monday 10 til 4pm.