SHE'S seen the travel industry bounce back from SARS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu and September 11 but travel agent Lisa Hall said this has been one of the most difficult times she has seen in her 30 year career.
Ms Hall said the industry has been hit hard, and while for most us the effects of COVID-19 are only three weeks in, for the travel industry, the pandemic was being felt from the beginning of the year.
"Really the industry as a whole has been affected since early January, which is when we began moving travel to 2021."
She said it was really hard for travel agents, but she said clients have been understanding.
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"Some airlines have been a little more flexible than others," she said.
"A lot are hedging their bets, and only allowing travel to be moved to May, others are July, so it is very difficult.
"It makes it hard for us, but luckily, our clients have been very understanding, we're trying to move things around for them to get the best deal.
"The industry as a whole can't fly, so we just have to wait until it all settles and life gets back to normal."
Ms Hall said in her 30 years of working in the travel industry she has seen a lot of disruption, but said COVID-19 is without a doubt the biggest upheaval its ever faced.
"I've been through it all, SARS, Bird Flu, September 11, the collapse of Ansett airlines, the collapse of Compass, but this is by far the worst.
"The way it has affected the industry, is incredible, we all just have to band together," she said.
Ms Hall said in the longer term the impact of COVID-19 might change the face of all retailing, including travel, especially in the sense of brick and mortar shop fronts.
She said it highlighted the importance of local communities supporting local businesses, keeping jobs and money in the Bathurst economy. She said shopping locally will be more important then ever when the recovery phase from the pandemic begins
"People think they can get a better travel deal online, but everything you see online, we can do."
She said it's not until people run into problems, like they are now with COVID-19, that they realise the additional benefits of dealing with a local agent.
"People don't have the time to sit on the phone to an airline for six hours and sort things out.
"That's what I did for a customer yesterday," she said.
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