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Date published 04.12.2017

ANOTHER year has flown by and there is no disguising the fact that it has been an extraordinarily difficultly one.

The economy has floundered largely because of the appalling political shenanigans going on in the country. Corruption and incompetence are rife, so a massively effective intervention is going to be required next year, if we are going to avoid a precipitous decline into a mirror image of Zimbabwe.

It is all self-inflicted by a government out of control or, more correctly, controlled by corrupt forces. That is no exaggeration. All of our futures will be affected by what happens at the ANC’s leadership conference this month and the will by the winner to act in the best interests of South Africa.

Before the start of the new year, Flight Centre boosted ASATA’s standing when the group became a long-sought-after member, as the association embarked on an agenda to ensure the future of retail agents of all types.

More cruise lines revealed plans to call at South African ports and the Democratic Alliance said the billion rand fine against SAA for uncompetitive practices would be the last straw for the airline. The straw remains!

Emirates reintroduced A380 flights to South Africa and Comair said it would increase investment in kulula holidays. There were further moves to officially recognise consultants’ experience and skills and ASATA’s Professional Programme will enable agents to achieve a TPac – Travel Practitioner – qualification.

The VAT issue on international air travel started to become a concern as agents became more aware of it. Confusion, however, continues.

The issuance of ADMs also remained a challenge, with IATA and the trade still working on the contentious problem.

Irregular pricing on travel websites was an international concern, revealed by the European Commission. It showed gaps in legislation and policy to protect South African consumers.

The Tourism Grading Council expanded benefits for members, increasing grading value for customers and local and international tour operators and agents.

South African Tourism began to target agents as a key to domestic growth and the government set new transformation targets for the tourism industry.

Agents were outraged by new charges on GDS bookings, with international trade associations saying they were a threat to the retail industry.

Some popular European destinations protested against negative effects of mass tourism.

Time started running out for agents to begin PCI DSS compliance and Eurowings began flying to South Africa, to be followed by the return of Austrian Airlines and Alitalia next year.

There is going to be a lot of change in the way businesses operate next year, including TIR, as you will have read above.

We must all be positive and adapt to control our futures in the rapidly changing and challenging times in every sphere, in South Africa more than most countries, which are so often beyond our control, and turn 2018 into a change for the better.

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