CATO View – March 2014

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Peter BaileyCATO moving to make ATAS accreditation
compulsory for full members

Peter Baily, general manager,
Council of Australian Tour Operators


GARY O’Riordan from ATAS and Gina Papas from Consumer Affairs Victoria addressed this month’s CATO meeting in Melbourne where our main focus was to update, and have an open discussion with, members on the regulatory changes coming into play when the TCF closes on June 30.

CATO has always supported the need for a voluntary industry-led accreditation scheme once deregulation comes into effect on July 1, with those accredited having to meet strict criteria of professionalism and financial viability.

Great credit should be given to AFTA for taking on the lead role in introducing the voluntary AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS).

With these changes taking place over the next three months members who have not already done so are strongly encouraged to attend the ATAS workshops taking place in May.

To reaffirm CATO’s commitment to accreditation, at our AGM on June 11, members will be asked to vote on a change to the CATO constitution whereby one of the criteria for full membership will be the requirement to be accredited and join ATAS.

Members will also be encouraged to take advantage of the various insurance schemes being made available to ATAS members. Airline and end supplier cover is being offered as well as participant insolvency insurance.

For the first time there is the opportunity to insure against credit card chargebacks. As credit cards are now presented for payment at every level of the travel processing chain, from consumer through to ground operators, some of the new insurances are a way to be confident that with supplier failure, there is some protection from the chargeback process. 

With accreditation CATO as an association can promote the professionalism, quality and financial viability of its members. In a deregulated industry to be accredited will be of prime importance and offer agents and consumers booking with CATO members that degree of certainty that their travel arrangements will be well looked after.

Quotes from members at the meeting in Melbourne –

• Simon Hills (Icon Holidays): “As I see it, membership of ATAS will be just as important to the consumer as it is to the travel agent/wholesaler, as long as AFTA/ATAS kicks in decent advertising and promotes the product to the public …

“Membership of CATO needs to be available only to those members who have adopted the ATAS requirements and this needs to be promoted avidly.”

• Janette Davie ( Pinpoint Travel Group): “Were CATO members to agree at the upcoming AGM that

ATAS accreditation is a condition of CATO membership then for the first time, there would be a clear accreditation criteria to be met prior to joining CATO. 

“We could be more confident that those enthusiastically wishing to join the tour operators’ segment of the industry have a good understanding of the business capabilities, and the experience required for a stable and successful tour operation.” 

The next CATO meeting will be the AGM in Sydney on June 11. For further details and bookings email Gina at AFTA.

Peter Baily’s CATO View column appears quarterly.