The head of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has resigned after sparking outrage over his comments towards A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw.
AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury caused a wave of criticism after telling members during a webinar on Friday that the TV host 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.”
Westbury was venting his fury about what he perceived was biased reporting on the issue of customer refunds from travel companies, many of whom are at the wall or have gone bust.
However, many were rightfully appalled at his use of language, saying it condoned violence towards women.
Westbury yesterday apologised for his outburst.
“My comments relating to Ms Grimshaw involved a very poor choice of words,” he said. “I apologise for that choice and accept the language used was completely inappropriate.”
But only hours later, AFTA announced his resignation “effective immediately”.
“While Mr Westbury stressed that his comments should not be taken literally and has apologised publicly and to Ms Grimshaw, he has also acknowledged that the comments were inappropriate and unacceptable in any circumstances, as well as being at odds with the views of AFTA and its member companies and agencies,” AFTA said in a statement.
AFTA chairman Tom Manwaring said his words cannot be condoned.
“His work history stands in good stead for the service he has provided the travel industry and AFTA’s members,” Manwaring said.
An interim CEO has been appointed while his replacement is sought.