CATO View – July 2012

Strengthened CATO to focus on research and consumer protection reform

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Peter BaileyStrengthened CATO to focus on research
and consumer protection reform

By Peter Baily, general manager,
Council of Australian Tour Operators


THE Council of Australian Tour Operator’s (CATO) recently held its AGM and dinner in Sydney; it was well supported with 90 members and guests in attendance.

Rod Eather in his chairman’s report welcomed the tourist offices to their
first meeting as members and reaffirm-ed their introduction would add strength to the CATO membership.

A main focus during the coming year will be to get the message out regarding the value of dealing with a CATO wholesaler and to continue to promote the value of the current supply chain between wholesalers and retail travel agents.

Cruising has seen exceptional growth of over 30 per cent in the past year, and our chairman urged wholesalers to learn from cruising and get more people to travel overseas, rather than on the seas!

Research will be another focus during the coming year. It was agreed the broad base of statistics available within the CATO membership should be aggregated and shared as a total amongst members so that they could assess their own performance.

Members are currently being surveyed to gauge their response and more detailed plans will be discussed and formalised at our next meeting in Brisbane in October.

As is well known there has been a review process over the past three years on the current regulatory system in the travel industry, so it was interesting to have Steven Doran from the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) as a guest speaker at the meeting.

He pointed out that the TCF charter’s prime concern is the client (traveller) and the security of their funds within the Australian system. Agents and wholesalers are NOT covered by the fund, nor monies paid out to overseas operators.

The subject matter has turned out to be most topical, with the Ministers of Consumer Affairs from across the country acknowledging that the TCF “could not continue to be the primary vehicle for consumer protection in the travel market and that current arrangements are not satisfactory, with only about a third of affected consumers having any redress under the scheme”.

A draft plan of transition from the existing arrangements has been presented by officials and the ministers say they intend to release a plan and invite comments and suggestions from interested parties before the year’s end. CATO looks forward to working closely with AFTA and the Government to ensure that any changes that are introduced protect the interests of their members and endorses the value of booking through an Australian accredited wholesaler.

• Rod Eather (Beachcomber Tours) was re-elected CATO chairman. Also re-elected were Michael Hay (Chat Tours), John Polyviou (Sun Island Tours), Trevor Fernandes (Wildlife Safaris), Leo Adams (Holidays on Location) and Greg McCallum (Rail Plus). New committee members are Sarah Anderson (GTI Tourism) and Anne Marie Mitchell (GET Educational Tours).

Peter Baily’s CATO View column appears quarterly.





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