From the publisher

From BRUCE Piper

Cox & Kings placed Tempo Holidays Pty Limited, including the Bentours brand, into voluntary administration just as this issue of travelBulletin was going to print, putting about 90 Australian and New Zealand staffers out of work. The tragic destruction of this once proud local business is likely to impact hundreds of travel agencies and thousands of passengers over the coming months, with the collapse coming despite several utterly empty reassurances — or should I say outright lies — that the operation here was unaffected by the financial issues at its Indian parent.

The fallout is likely to be far-reaching, and like all collapses of this type there will be close scrutiny of the operation in the lead-up to its shutdown, including whether there had been insolvent trading or inappropriate use of client and company funds. At this early stage the scale of the collapse is unclear, but some key suppliers are believed to be owed millions of dollars, while there’s no clarity about where the money has gone, with the company only very recently establishing a trust account for new bookings.

By all accounts Tempo and Bentours had been trading strongly, thanks to the stellar efforts of the local team who had worked hard to build the reputation of the brands.

However a cashflow crisis within the publicly-listed Cox & Kings India meant their valiant efforts were all for naught, with the parent company ultimately deciding to close the doors, locking the staff out and telling them they no longer had jobs.

AFTA had been closely monitoring the status of Tempo and Bentours, initially placing the ATAS accreditation of the business under review while consultations were under way with the company. Ultimately Cox & Kings was unable to satisfy the requirements of ATAS, and the termination of Tempo Holidays’ participation in the scheme was one of the nails in its coffin. As with a number of previous withdrawals from ATAS, AFTA’s dim view of the business turned out to right on the money, and while it’s cold comfort for those impacted, the wider industry should definitely be thankful for the high standards that ATAS is enforcing.

Moreover the increasing uptake of the AFTA Chargeback Scheme means members taking part in this program have been completely protected against credit card chargebacks relating to transactions booked with Tempo/Bentours prior to the withdrawal of accreditation.

It must be acknowledged that having an industry-led scheme is definitely working to highlight businesses that are reputable, reliable and worth dealing with.

Tempo and Bentours may survive in another form, and I’m hoping that by the time you read this the administrators will have accepted an offer from a more worthy custodian which will at least see the survival of these iconic Australian travel brands.