The Travel Agents Association says workers are being unfairly blamed as cancellations and changed bookings pile up.
Chief executive Andrew Olsen said their workload was more time intensive during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The hundreds of thousands of impacted bookings - and this would just be a notional guide, they're probably being handled four to five times as much as they normally would be under normal circumstances," he said.
"If you try to put that into a professional service kind of framework, that's a lot of handling."
Most funds were transferred to the airline, hotel, cruise or tour company, not the agent, he said.
That meant the suppliers determine if a credit or refund is issued and can cause delays.
"We know there's a lot of frustration, and we know there's a lot of concern about the wellbeing of our ... agency owners including their staff, and if you hang over the top of that a zero sales environment where all the earnings from previous bookings are effectively being handed back either through refunds or held in credits, the situation's multiplied because there is no guarantee of future income in the foreseeable future," Olsen said.
He is asking for people's patience when dealing with travel agents.