There are calls for a travel boss to be sacked after he lashed out at A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw over the program’s reporting of a travel industry refund scandal.
The chief executive of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), Jayson Westbury, told members during a webinar on Friday that the Nine presenter needed “to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face”.
“I mean that virtually, of course. I wouldn’t want to invoke any violence on anyone,” he added.
“But, I mean, some of the behaviour and some of the language that’s being used on that program is just outrageous.”
This morning Mr Westbury apologised for his “inappropriate” language and “very poor choice of words”.
But the comments did not sit well with women’s groups and others who have taken to social media to call for him to be stood down.
“Want to know why violence against women is so hard to stamp out? Meet Jayson Westbury,” the Older Women’s Network posted on Facebook this morning.
“He said publicly in a seminar to travel agents that ‘Tracy Grimshaw needs to be given a firm uppercut or a good slap across the face’.
“Then he said he meant it ‘virtually’. Virtually or not, that is 100 per cent unacceptable. As the industry’s leader, he is paid to represent the interests of travel agents. Unless they support violence against women, this man has to be stood down. We deplore violence against women in any way, shape or form.”
The Red Heart Campaign founder and journalist Sherele Moody also slammed Mr Westbury’s comments.
“It’s hard to believe that old mate has no idea about the epidemic of violence against women in Australia. That he doesn’t know men across the country routinely give their partners uppercuts and slaps around the face,” she said.
“Imagine having an ego so fragile that you can’t handle a woman doing her bloody job and holding your industry to account.”
Others have taken to social media to express their dismay at Mr Westbury’s remarks.
In a statement this morning, Mr Westbury said he “unreservedly apologises” for his comment about Grimshaw.
“My comments relating to Ms Grimshaw involved a very poor choice of words. I apologise for that choice and accept the language used was completely inappropriate,” Mr Westbury said.
The comments were made during a webinar that addressed how the travel industry was dealing with negative publicity during the coronavirus pandemic. The webinar has now been removed from the AFTA website.
During his address, Mr Westbury had told members that while AFTA was doing what it could by talking with ACA’s reporters and producers, he would no longer be watching the show and advised others to do the same.
“The best thing to do for A Current Affair is just to stop watching. That way you’ll stop worrying,” he said. “I’ve personally boycotted it, won’t be ever watching it again.”
CONCERNS RAISED OVER REFUNDS
The travel industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with widespread travel bans forcing holiday-makers to cancel their plans and seek refunds.
But some customers have reported having trouble getting their money back, with travel agencies either refusing to pay up or offering only credit notes instead.
Last week, A Current Affair reported that one family had been left thousands of dollars out of pocket after STA Travel refused to refund a three-week holiday to the US.
In an update to members on Tuesday, Mr Westbury said holiday-makers were likely to continue cancelling trips “for some time to come” and it would be a “death by a thousand cuts” for the industry.
“Consumers will continue to look to cancel trips and request refunds. And so it continues like death by a thousand cuts as the travel industry continues to deal with these very ridged travel restrictions,” he said.
“Prepare for more cancellations and refunds, start planning for selling domestic trips and hope that we might be allowed off the island (Australia) for Christmas,” he added.