AFTA View – October 2012
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The transition from the TCF – ‘future proofing’ the
Australian travel industry
By Jay Westbury, chief executive Australian Federation
of Travel Agents
BY now you may have already read the AFTA submission to the Travel Industry Transition Plan (TITP) consultation draft and if not you can get a copy from www.afta.com.au.
Fundamental to the transition is the big question around what will happen next or what will replace the TCF should it be wound up.
In simple terms the answer is nothing. What the TITP is proposing is to move to an environment in which there are no additional layers of regulation or legislation specifically for the travel industry or which go beyond the laws governing other businesses that transact with consumers.
The reason for this is that travel is a product that can be so easily transacted over the internet and/or from non-Australian companies. Therefore it becomes very difficult to create a system that does not put Australian travel agents at a commercial disadvantage.
However, what the TITP does suggest and AFTA is 100 per cent supportive – is a voluntary accreditation scheme. The idea being that AFTA would operate an accreditation scheme which Australian travel companies could elect to join to enable greater and amplified consumer awareness.
For many years AFTA’s members have been calling on AFTA to connect more with consumers and to make consumers aware of why they should use a travel agent.
The accreditation scheme that is being designed to facilitate the TITP recommendation will have at its core a specific message of awareness around why consumers should use an Australian accredited travel agent.
The accreditation will not be a TCF style scheme. It will not have consumer compensation built into it and it will not require financial accounts to be audited.
What it will have is an industry code of conduct that will be based on the ACCC industry code of conduct and will bring in many industry-specific criteria that will allow travel agents to gain accreditation based upon their professional experience and knowledge.
Using the ACCC code of conduct is important as this framework has been used very successfully in voluntary schemes in other industries such as the banking code of conduct. AFTA has included some of this specific detail within our submission.
I am hopeful that this will assist the TITP in making the final decisions.
After a very long time and many many years we may find that over the next two months we will move to an implementation plan. If so, I expect it will run over the coming two years.
It will take time to affect the changes proposed within the TITP and AFTA’s submission spells out a suggested timetable which we believe is achiev-able, practical and appropriate for all concerned.
The next step is that the TITP will develop over the next month a firm set of proposals that will be put to the Consumer Affairs ministers in December and I hope that the December meeting will finally agree to move forward and commence the process of future proofing the Australian travel industry.
Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.