AFTA boss resigns after saying TV host Tracy Grimshaw should be 'given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face'

A senior figure in the Australian travel industry has resigned after a controversial attack on a television journalist during an online seminar.

Jayson Westbury, the chief executive of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), took aim at the host of Channel 9's A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw, over the network's coverage of the travel industry's actions during COVID-19.

Westbury said Grimshaw needed "to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face".

"But, I mean, some of the behaviour and some of the language that's being used on that programme is just outrageous," Westbury said.

"I mean that virtually, of course. I wouldn't want to invoke any violence on anyone." 

The following morning, Westbury issued an apology for his "inappropriate" language and "very poor choice of words".

But the apology wasn't enough and within hours he had resigned.

On Wednesday night Grimshaw - who has been one of the biggest names in Australian television since the early 1990s - responded to the comments and Westbury's resignation.

"Jayson Westbury's language was appalling and he's paid the price for it," Grimshaw told her audience.

"As CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents he was supposed to help them navigate the devastating effects of this COVID-19 pandemic and somehow address the scathing criticism from customers who now couldn't travel and couldn't get refunds.

"Instead, he chose to shoot the messenger in a disturbing personal attack on me."

AFTA says it will appoint a new chief executive in due course.