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All the latest news, updates and activity from the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) 

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  • Thu, February 23, 2023 9:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) and the New Zealand Outbound Travel Suppliers Association (NZOTSA) have today met in Auckland to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two peak industry bodies to collaborate in a number of areas.

     “There are numerous synergies and potential benefits through the cooperation of services and sharing of relevant intellectual property across Australia and New Zealand which makes our MOU very exciting”, said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    “As our sector of the travel industry continues to rebound at a rapid pace, the MOU puts in place the groundwork to allow further expansion of the land supply sector across the Tasman Jardine added.

    NZOTSA Chairman, Joe O’Sullivan confirmed “the intent of this MOU is to explore, discuss and develop areas of mutual benefit for members across each organisation and the region in general”.

    Both parties noted that exploration of relevant activity will revolve around (but may not be limited to) advocacy efforts, member education, research, trade distribution, administrative capability, and networking opportunities.

    CATO and NZOTSA board members. L-R: Joe O’Sullivan, NZOTSA Chair; Marija Kapiteli, MD Croatia Times Travel; Brett Jardine, Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) MD; Robyn Galloway, MD Innovative Travel; Paul Dymond, MD Wendy Wu Tours and LISA Pagotto, MD Crooked Compass & CATO Vice Chair.

  • Thu, February 16, 2023 8:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) have today launched their Crisis, Risk and Resilience Conference which will be held in Sydney on Monday 15th May 2023.

    “The CATO Crisis, Risk & Resilience Conference will bring together participants from across the entire travel and tourism sector, with subject matter experts and industry leaders providing valuable insights through panel discussions and keynote presentations” said Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director

    “We have curated an insightful program which will include topics critical to travel businesses such as; legal matters, crisis communications, cyber security, insurance risk and crisis leadership as well as sector specific discussion, delivered by a number of prominent experts” added Jardine.

    Of particular note for travel agents, will be a keynote address to be delivered by CATO Board Member and Travel Law Specialist, Aaron Zoanetti. Well-known for his expertise and in-depth knowledge of travel law, Zoanetti will provide a detailed analysis around the opportunities and risks associated with dealing directly with DMC’s and offshore suppliers.

    All travel and tourism professionals are invited to register with tickets priced at $180 +GST for CATO members and $220 +GST for non-members. Tickets include a full day conference, morning tea, lunch and networking drinks, post event.

    CATO have released a prospectus for potential sponsors and the full event program will be available in the coming weeks at

    Tickets to the CATO Crisis, Risk & Resilience Conference are available here

  • Mon, December 12, 2022 7:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) “Industry Christmas Lunch Event” held yesterday in the Ivy Ballroom and Pool Bar in Sydney, saw 300 members of the industry come together to celebrate in festive spirit with optimism for the year ahead


    Guests were warmly welcomed with networking drinks, courtesy of Welcome Sponsor – The Travel Corporation and entertainment provided by Crooked Compass & Tourism Promotion Authority Papua New Guinea.


    Richard Taylor successfully emceed the event where the industry heard from CATO Chairman, Dennis Bunnik and Managing Director, Brett Jardine, followed by exciting destination updates from Platinum Sponsor- Qatar Tourism, Richard Styles, Gold Sponsor - Korea Tourism Organization, Ryan Archibald, After Party Sponsor- New Caledonia Tourism, Rebecca Marchal and Tourism Promotion Authority Papua New Guinea, Douglas Keari and Lisa Pagotto from Crooked Compass.


    CATO MD, Brett Jardine held a thoughtful Q&A with Matt Leedham from Karryon on his contribution to the industry during the pandemic with his work on Together in Travel. The After Party then progressed to the Ivy Pool Club, where the industry mixed and mingled until late hours of Thursday evening.


    “Through the generosity and support of all our sponsors, the industry was entertained and rewarded with lots of exciting prizes. We are deeply appreciative of the contribution from our sponsors to make this event such a success and look forward to this becoming the sought-after annual event in our calendars”, said Brett Jardine, Managing Director, CATO.


    “I would also like to acknowledge the wonderful work of Lisa Maroun and her team who supported us in creating and executing with precision, our inaugural CATO Industry Christmas Lunch Event” added Jardine.

  • Fri, November 18, 2022 9:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) leadership today met with Senator Don Farrell, Special Minister of State and Minister of Trade and Tourism in Adelaide, to call for the opening up of Australian air capacity by way of a 12-24 month Open Skies Agreement. 

    CATO Managing Director Brett Jardine, Chair Dennis Bunnik and Vice-Chair Lisa Pagotto raised the Open Skies Agreement during far reaching discussions with the Minister, that focused on fast tracking the recovery of the travel and tourism industry. 


    “Our tour operator and wholesaler members are seeing their post-covid recovery curtailed by the severe lack of airline capacity and the resulting high prices being demanded by airlines.”said Brett Jardine, Managing Director, CATO.

    Currently international airlines’ access to landing slots in Australia is governed through bi-lateral agreements between countries. A recent CAPA Aviation Conference in Adelaide advised that Australia’s international air capacity is at only 57% of pre-covid levels.  This is severely restricting travel and tourism recovery.  An Open Skies Agreement would allow any airline, unlimited capacity to fly into Australia.

    CATO believes opening up air-capacity will provide the largest single boost to the recovery of the travel and tourism industry post-covid. It will create jobs throughout Australia, facilitate the growth of exports and help address critical labour shortages.

    “The positive impacts of an open skies strategy will be felt throughout the economy.” added Jardine.

    CATO represents the land supply sector of the Australian travel industry. CATO tour operators and wholesalers create, market, and deliver domestic and international travel product sold both direct to consumers and through travel agencies. CATO members enable Australians to explore the world and return home safely. Outbound international leisure travel generated an economic benefit of more than $12b per annum pre-covid, and helps to underpin international aviation capacity, an integral part of the travel and tourism ecosystem. 

  • Thu, November 17, 2022 4:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    'Tis the season to be jolly … and to celebrate the comeback of travel. Could there be a finer way to do this than at the CATO Christmas Lunch? Naturally, CATO thinks not. 

    ‘Tis the season to be jolly … and to celebrate the comeback of travel. Could there be a finer way to do this than at the CATO Christmas Lunch? Naturally, CATO thinks not. 

    But the proof’s in the pudding (the Christmas variety of course) – and with the event open to the entire travel industry for the first time and ticket sales far surpassing expectations, it’s shaping up to be one sweet occasion. 

    Platinum sponsor Qatar Tourism has booked their place as have many other industry luminaries. Have you?

    As the major media sponsor of the Christmas lunch, Karryon got the lowdown from CATO managing director Brett Jardine about what’s on the menu for the event, the importance of reconnecting, and how CATO (and the whole industry) has been much nicer than naughty this year. 

    CATO Managing Director Brett Jardine.

    How special does this year’s event feel? Is there a renewed sense of optimism in travel?

    This year’s event feels incredibly special. It is the first time we have opened our Christmas event to the wider industry and we are so excited to connect further with everyone and build on the positive momentum right now. 

    Absolutely there is a renewed sense of optimism. We are seeing and hearing it from our members and while we have all banded together through the toughest times our industry has faced, as we rebuild it is even more important to stay connected and continue those relationships, which were strengthened during these times of adversity.

    Why did you open up this year’s event to the whole industry? Will future events follow?

    The past 2.5 years have been about unity, a collective voice and a collaborative approach to our industry. CATO has led the way by being the backbone of our sector and we could not have achieved what we did without our industry partners. This event is as much a thank you as it is a celebration as we all continue to move forward. 

    It is also an opportunity for CATO members to reconnect with the trade and their partners. Having the broader industry at our luncheon will allow another layer of face-to-face connection that has been missing for so long and as we all know, these sorts of events stimulate new connections and opportunities, which at present are endless. We intend to continue this theme with future events.

    CATO Board Members with Tourism Research Australia in Canberra in June.

    What has the response been from the industry?

    The response has been incredible. The interest and ticket sales have far surpassed where we thought we would be a month out from the event and this shows how keen everyone is to reconnect and celebrate the highs and lows of what has passed and what is to come. We are so glad CATO can be a catalyst to reconnect our members and so many industry partners.

    What can guests expect from this year’s Christmas Lunch?

    This Christmas Lunch is different to other Christmas functions. We will have some fun, educational elements, reflection and forward thinking. This is more than just a cocktail function; there will be a delicious three-course meal with drinks included and an incredible afterparty with plenty of time for networking.

    The Ivy Ballroom – what will the CATO Christmas Lunch hold?

    CATO memberships grew significantly during the pandemic – what was key to this success?

    Defining CATO members as the backbone of our industry was a critical part of our discussions with the government. Tour operators and wholesalers are the businesses that take the risk to invest in product development years before it is sold through their retail travel agent partners. 

    The traction that CATO was able to establish during the pandemic showed the power of unity to businesses in our sector and members have appreciated an industry voice specifically for them. The collective community strengthened during the pandemic and encouraged people to want to be part of something bigger. 

    CATO Christmas event in 2020.

    What would you say to businesses considering CATO membership?

    If you are a participant in the travel industry and package domestic or international leisure travel products, you are deemed a principal. Chat with us about all the checks and balances required to operate in this capacity. 

    Many retail agents are unwittingly acting as principals without the right insurance and/or booking terms and conditions in place. There is nothing illegal about operating in this way however, we are aware that many business owners are potentially exposing themselves to serious financial risk.

    In addition to our tour operator and wholesale membership, we also offer a fabulous network of associate members, covering tourism boards, technology providers, airlines and other product/service providers, with a strong interest in engaging with the land supply sector. Contact us to understand what membership options are available. 

    CATO Trivia Event 2022.

    What does CATO have planned for 2023 and beyond?

    CATO is busy planning an expanded events schedule for the year that will focus on supporting our members’ needs and continuing to drive engagement with the wider industry. The major events will include a Crisis, Risk & Resilience conference, Annual Travel Trivia event and our CATO Industry Christmas Lunch, along with numerous other state-based events. 

    For more on the CATO Christmas Lunch, register here.

    Source: Karryon

  • Sat, November 12, 2022 7:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    "The CATO Christmas Lunch is now firmly on the travel industry calendar as the must attend event in Sydney, and with more than 250 tickets sold we anticipate an audience of well over 300.” said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    “As we emerge from COVID, the pent-up demand for outbound land-based leisure travel is significant and we are excited to have Qatar Tourism supporting this iconic event, and the opportunity to showcase this wonderful destination.” added Jardine.

    "Qatar Tourism is delighted to be the platinum sponsor of the CATO industry Christmas lunch. We see CATO and its members as key partners in helping us promote Qatar to the Australian travelling public", said Qatar Tourism regional sales director, Richard Styles.

    The CATO Industry Christmas Lunch, held on 8th December at the Ivy Ballroom, is open to all travel industry participants. For those that have not yet secured their place, there are a limited number of tickets remaining – click here to purchase.

  • Fri, September 30, 2022 4:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has expanded its annual members Christmas lunch to now welcome all industry participants. This highly attended event will be held at one of Sydney’s most iconic event spaces, the Ivy Ballroom on Thursday 8th December.

    “Opening the Christmas lunch event up to the wider industry will provide a valuable opportunity for current and past participants across all facets of the industry to gather, reconnect and celebrate together another challenging year” said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    Jardine added “The CATO Board is actively seeking ways to provide support to the wider industry and sharing the spirit of our annual Christmas event is the perfect platform”

    The CATO Christmas lunch will be followed by an after party at the Ivy’s famous “Pool Bar” with attendees expected to celebrate festivities well into the evening. Tickets are now available here.

  • Mon, September 19, 2022 4:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO), and the Korea Tourism Organization Sydney Office (KTO) have united to deliver some valuable CATO member events over the coming weeks in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.

    The events will commence in Melbourne on Wednesday 21st September 2022 at the Intrepid Group Head Office, where CATO members will hear from Intrepid co-founder Geoff Manchester, on the benefits of B-Corp Certification.

    CATO members will hear from Alissa O'Connell, Global Head of People and Culture, Flight Centre Travel Group, at the Brisbane event on Thursday 6th October 2022, at Mojo’s Bistro. Alissa will share insights into talent acquisition and employee retention in the current climate.  

    The trio of events will conclude in Sydney on Wednesday 19th October where CATO Vice-Chair, Lisa Pagotto will emcee a Korean style banquet, sharing insights in conversation with senior members of the KTO team.

    “These events are part of CATO’s renewed focus on providing valuable networking opportunities and support for members, as they continue to emerge from COVID, and we are grateful for the support of KTO Sydney.” said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

     “We are delighted to be partnering with CATO to showcase South Korea and highlight the variety of adventure that can be enjoyed, the exciting food scene as well as Korea’s unique natural assets.” said Insook Lee, Director, Korea Tourism Organization Sydney Office.

    To register for the events please click here

  • Mon, August 29, 2022 10:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is delighted to announce its new platinum member, Aeronology, which specialises in point of sale (POS) technology for Travel Advisors and Arrangers.

    “Aeronology has developed a unique product, combining online distribution platforms and tour products, making it easy for customers to buy, sell and service quickly and productively. With the current challenges in resourcing, this platform offering will provide significant benefit to our members” said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    “Aeronology is extremely proud to be associated with CATO, and will provide its members with the tools, especially Air distribution, that the industry needs for its customers. We offer an easy-to-use platform to use for their travel agents and customers” advised CEO Russell Carstensen.” 

    “We have received extremely positive feedback from our first Tour Operator customer, Journey Beyond and this has resulted in them plugging in Aeronology Air to their selling tools without the stress of increasing staff numbers or expertise.” added Carstensen.

    CATO has recently achieved a new milestone of over 200 members.

  • Thu, August 25, 2022 12:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    TIME’s partnership with CATO has resulted in their generously committing to funding a scholarship for the 26 October 2022 intake for an up-and-coming leader of the future

    With 2022 being the start of a new era in travel this opportunity has been provided for a prospective mentee who wishes to upskill to meet the demands of the future and to have access to a mentor who is an experienced industry leader. These people have always provided invaluable insight and a springboard for aspiring and motivated people to be able to grow their career.

    Applications for the scholarship are now open to all Australian employees of the travel industry (providing they meet the criteria) for the intake commencing on 26 October 2022

    Take that step now If you are committed to equipping yourself for the industries’ challenges of the future and apply before the deadline of Monday 26 September 2022

    “CATO is delighted to partner with TIME to provide further support to the travel industry as we emerge from a challenging few years. Now is the time to invest in our future leaders, to retain expertise, passion and knowledge for the industry, whilst equipping them with personalised mentoring, to support their business/career vision through this scholarship” said Brett Jardine, CATO’s Managing Director.

    “TIME appreciates that there are some aspiring TIME applicants who are not able to fund their own participation and thanks to the generosity of CATO this is being made possible “said Penny Spencer

    To download the application form from the TIME website, click on the link below; 

    To learn more about TIME:
    Visit the website:
    Contact TIME at:

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