‘This is terminal’: Operator owed tens of thousands
A WHITSUNDAY tour operator has spoken out against a travel booking company that he says owes him and other companies tens of thousands of dollars, saying it could be "terminal" for the industry if boat owners and operators are not paid.
Owner of Apollo Whitsundays Rick Mark said he received an email from Adventium Technology Group saying he would not be paid in full for tours conducted last month.
Mr Mark says he is owed more than $30,000 by the online booking company and claims other operators in the Whitsundays were also out of pocket.
Adventium Technology Group offer web services for tour operators, retail agents, wholesalers and e-commerce web services.
The company organise the ticketing and booking for operators and take payments that are then passed on at a later date through their platform WebsiteTravel.
In a statement on the Adventium Technology Group Pty Ltd website, managing director Andrew Cox said they "will be suspending payments to all agents, operators, suppliers and customers" with hopes of ensuring all outstanding payments are made in early May.
However, Mr Mark said the payments for tours he ran in March had been partly withheld because the company had encountered financial troubles due to coronavirus causing significant strain on the industry.
"I am owed $33,000 and some of the other boys are owed a small fortune," he said.
"We've just got correspondence from them saying they are trying to get a loan to the tune of about $12 million to try and get themselves back on track.
"Everyone I've talked to has been relying on it … that was their rent for the next six months.
"I've got grave fears for the future, especially in a town like Airlie Beach where we're completely reliant on tourism and the industry is not being afforded any help at all."
Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said he had been made aware of the issue and was also concerned about the future of the industry if payments were not honoured.
"My understanding is that Adventium has suspended the payments that they are making, so there are some operators that are now owed money for the last month or so and haven't been paid that," he said.
"Adventium has told operators they believe they can recapitalise and continue trading and pay everyone.
"The ACCC is looking into it on behalf of several Whitsunday businesses.
"If (Adventium) go bust, there will be businesses throughout the Whitsundays that are owed so much money that it could actually destroy those businesses as well."
Mr Mark said the money owed by Adventium Travel along with mooring and insurance fees could mean the end of the industry.
"This is terminal," he said.
"The industry is on the ropes anyway, but this will pretty much finish it off.
"There's nothing you can be doing about (coronavirus), but to be still paying the same marina fees, insurances, and not getting paid by agents for work completed, that's obviously a situation that can be resolved and should be reasonably resolved.
"I've got a feeling you might not even see an industry come out of this if you're not careful. It needs a major helping hand."
However, no further action has been taken by State or Federal Government.
A statement on the Adventium Technology Group website from April 9 by managing director Andrew Cox said the company had appointed Henslow to undertake a $12 million Capital Raise to "ensure the survival of the WebsiteTravel platform."
"WebsiteTravel has operated for over 15 years and whilst there have been some ups and downs for the business over this period, there has been nothing of the magnitude of COVID-19 crisis," he said.
"Like most marketplaces, WebsiteTravel is an asset light company and operates on a negative working capital model.
"Unfortunately, this model has unwound at such a rapid pace as a result of COVID-19 government enforced shutdowns, that we now need to undertake to raise new capital to repair the balance sheet to ensure that all obligations are met.
"This will ensure the business is sufficiently resourced to continue to grow and benefit from the recovery in travel and tourism.
"Consequently, pending completion of the Capital Raise, to ensure the survival of the WebsiteTravel platform, Adventium Technology will be suspending payments to all agents, operators, suppliers and customers during this period.
"Our intention is to complete the Capital Raise by the end of April and to ensure that all outstanding payments are made in early May."
It was noted that this was subject to change without notice in the event there is a delay in completing the Capital Raise for any reason.