CATO View – November 2011
/images/frontpage pointers/regular columns/Peter-Baily.jpg
Preferred agreements: CATO remains neutral; members to make their own choices
THE recent Council of Australian Tour Operator’s (CATO) meeting and dinner in Melbourne updated members on a number of issues:
• The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) recently held a meeting at Mt Macedon on the Integration of Tourism and Emergency Management. The aim was to learn from recent challenging economic conditions and both man-made and natural disasters and attempt to be prepared for any similar eventualities in the future.
CATO was involved from a wholesaler’s perspective and it was pleasing to see the detailed crisis management plans most members had in place and the way they responded and reacted to the challenges faced during the past year.
It endorses the value of booking through a wholesaler in these challenging times. The wholesaler has the knowledge of the destination, expertise, contacts and ability to solve problems as and when they occur, the safety and wellbeing of the client is their priority.
The meeting heard of travellers who had booked direct through the internet often being left stranded and incurring large amounts of extra expense to be repatriated, whilst those who booked through wholesalers were taken care of.
The recent problems with Qantas were another example of where the value of booking through the combination of travel agent/wholesaler was highlighted.
UNWTO also released figures showing global international tourist arrivals hit record levels in the first half of 2011 and the forecast is for continued growth. The figures once again endorse the strength of the global tourism industry.
• CATO has been working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on the Smartraveller 3 Campaign which is now in its final stages, the launch being set for the end of November, with Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd launching the campaign at Sydney airport.
The main features will be a TV and press campaign aiming to increase traveller awareness of registering with Smartraveller, subscribing to the travel advisory updates and the importance of travel insurance.
A new, updated and much more user friendly website will be introduced and the travel advisories will be reduced from five to four levels.
Overall we consider this a very positive move by DFAT as it helps to increase awareness of current situations when preparing for overseas travel.
• CATO is in the final stages of its Facebook launch and members were urged to put a link on their own sites. This will allow members, agents and the general public to comment on current travel issues, upload pictures of educational trips or holidays, and generally keep in contact through social media.
Peter Baily’s CATO View column appears quarterly.