CATO View – November 2012

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Peter BaileyCATO backs AFTA on need to update industry regulation

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


THE recent release of the public submissions on the Draft Travel Industry Transition Plan has reignited the debate on the future of the current licensing system.

The Ministers for Consumer Affairs meet on December 7 to review these submissions and we await their findings with interest.

In its submission CATO shares the view of AFTA that the current licensing system is inadequate and needs updating.

It supports an industry-led accreditation scheme, underpinned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission-sanctioned industry code of conduct and supported by Australian Consumer Law to promote both trustworthiness and integrity within the industry.

CATO also agrees that any distri-bution of the Travel Compensation Fund reserves should be used as seed funding for the establishment of such a voluntary accreditation scheme with a percentage to be allocated for education and information for both the travel trade and consumers.

CATO also considers a grand-father clause should be invoked to allow previous financial and approved members of the TCF to be automatically accepted as members in the new accreditation scheme.

Contrary to the belief of some agents and wholesalers, the aim of any change is to improve both the current system and the benefits for the consumer and for the industry.

This will be done through a user pays scheme. The removal of the TCF will promote self-regulation and will be a more cost effective tool within the industry.

CATO will remain involved in any negotiations and discussions between the Government and the travel industry to ensure that the interests of our members are protected in this changing landscape.

Until any changes are made CATO supports the current licensing system which involves membership of the TCF and encourages agents and consumers to ensure that they only book through accredited wholesalers and travel agents.

The current legislation provides an additional level of protection to consumers assuring them that when they deal with licensed companies their money is safe and their travel investment is in the hands of reputable professionals.

• At CATO’s last meeting in Brisbane it was agreed to collate industry statistics from members which could then be aggregated and shared as a total so that members could more realistically assess their market share when comparing actual figures supplied by members.

It was felt that this would provide more meaningful information than the generalised statistics currently supplied by government departments.

It was agreed that this type of research would add value to CATO members.

The decision was made following a survey of members in which 65 per cent voted in favour to proceed.
The committee agreed to employ the services of CATO Associate member, Stollznow Research, to collate the information.

Members will be surveyed in February 2013 with the first period to be covered being the calendar year of 2012.

• The next meeting of CATO will be held at 99 York Street in Sydney from 5.30pm on Wednesday December 5 and will be followed by our Christmas dinner. Those who are interested in attending please email Gina to make a booking.

Peter Baily’s CATO View column appears quarterly.