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

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  • Mon, January 29, 2024 6:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is thrilled to announce the renowned Australian Author, Travel Writer, Environmentalist, and Creative Mentor, Nina Karnikowski, as the keynote speaker for its highly anticipated annual International Women’s Day (IWD) luncheon. This prestigious event is scheduled to take place in Brisbane on Thursday, 7th March at the Calile Hotel, a perennial fixture on lists of the world's top 50 hotels, providing an exquisite setting for a day dedicated to empowerment and inspiration.

    With a career spanning over a decade in travel writing, Nina Karnikowski has reshaped the narrative towards travel highlighting not only exploration, but also conservation and upliftment. Karnikowski's body of work exemplifies the transformative power of travel in addressing pressing social and environmental challenges, offering a perspective on the positive impact that conscientious travel can influence on the world.

    Nina Karnikowski is the celebrated author of several highly acclaimed works, including the thought-provoking memoir "The Mindful Traveller," as well as "Go Lightly," "Make a Living Living," and "The Writer Within." Her insightful articles regularly grace the pages of esteemed publications such as The Sydney Morning Herald's Traveller, The AFR's Life & Leisure, Condé Nast Traveller, and more.

    This year, CATO has chosen the theme of "Our Rising Stars" for its International Women’s Day luncheon. The event will feature a dynamic panel discussion, bringing together a group of aspirational future female leaders from within the CATO membership. The focus will be on celebrating and empowering the emerging talent in the travel industry.

    Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO, expressed his excitement about the overwhelming response to the event, stating, "We sold out our initial allocation of tickets pre-Christmas, but have now been able to secure extra space to cater for demand. Additional tickets are now available, but we anticipate they will sell out quickly."

    Don't miss this opportunity to be part of an inspiring and insightful event! Secure your tickets today at

  • Fri, December 08, 2023 10:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What an incredible turnout at our 2023 CATO Christmas Lunch!   ️ We were thrilled to host more than 420 passionate travel industry enthusiasts who came together to make this annual festive gathering a monumental success!   . From the heart-warming conversations to the captivating entertainment, the energy in the room was nothing short of magical. ✨ We extend our sincere thanks to our sponsors and all of you who joined us in celebrating the joy of the season and the spirit of travel.  ✈️

    Let's keep the spirit alive throughout the holiday season and into the coming year. Here's to more adventures, connections, and memorable moments in 2024!

    Check out the CATO Facebook or Instagram pages to view photos from the day.

    CLICK HERE to view the official event video.

  • Mon, November 27, 2023 9:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CATO Chair Dennis Bunnik's recent visit to the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) in New York City heralds a significant step forward in the collaborative efforts of global travel associations. In a meeting with USTOA's Executive Vice President Peggy Murphy, key discussions unfolded on the recovery trajectories of the travel industry in a post-pandemic world, as well as the effects of current geopolitical tensions on the sector.

    CATO Chair, Dennis Bunnik with USTOA EVP, Peggy Murphy

    CLICK HERE to read more

  • Thu, November 02, 2023 5:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As the Membership Manager at CATO, your role encompasses the following vital aspects: Administration| Marketing | Partnerships | Training.

    The responsibilities of this role are dynamic and diversified across several functions whilst working autonomously from your home office.

    The successful applicant will make a significant and meaningful contribution to this growing sector within the Australian travel industry.

    If you are a dynamic, self-starter with a broad range of skills and seeking variety in a role, this could be the job for you.


  • Mon, October 30, 2023 10:02 AM | Deleted user

    On Thursday, 26th October, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) hosted a successful Victorian Members Networking Event at the funky Madame Brussels in Melbourne CBD. The event drew a record attendance including members of the CATO Board, who were in town to host the event ahead of their annual strategy day on Friday, 27th October.

    Frontera Law, a valued Platinum Partner and CATO Board Member Aaron Zoanetti's new law firm, generously sponsored this Victorian Members Networking Event.  

    CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine and Chair, Dennis Bunnik provided attendees with a comprehensive update on current CATO activity that continues to deliver targeted member support. 

    “The overwhelming response from our Victorian based members and the event's success demonstrates the solid state of the CATO community and its dedication to the advancement of Australia's travel industry”, said Jardine. 

  • Tue, October 17, 2023 10:56 AM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is thrilled to announce the return of its celebrated International Women's Day Lunch in 2024. This signature event, held in Brisbane on March 7th, will be hosted at the renowned Calile Hotel, a perennial fixture on lists of the world's top 50 hotels, providing the perfect backdrop for an inspiring day of empowerment.

    CATO's International Women's Day Lunch has evolved into a pivotal occasion, dedicated to recognising the exceptional contributions of its female members who are at the forefront of reshaping the travel and tourism industry.

    Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO said "We are looking forward to hearing invaluable insights, personal stories, and experiences that promise to ignite inspiration among all in attendance, aligning perfectly with the theme of IWD 2024. We are also delighted to announce our headline sponsor for IWD 2024, The Travel Corporation, and supporting sponsor, Entire Travel Group. We extend our heartfelt thanks to them for their unwavering support."

    "Embodying The Travel Corporation's unwavering dedication to empowering women and our deep commitment to fostering meaningful connections through our transformative Make Travel Matter experiences worldwide, we are proud to sponsor the CATO International Women's Day lunch. It's a fantastic occasion to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women within the touring sector while eagerly anticipating a bright future for our emerging leaders” said Toni Ambler, Managing Director of TTC Tour Brands & Ben Hall CEO of AAT Kings in a joint statement.

    This year's lunch promises to once again be a dynamic and engaging experience. We invite industry professionals, enthusiasts, and all who share our passion for travel, to join us for a lively discussion as we celebrate the innovative women of CATO, who contribute immeasurable value to the travel industry as a whole.

    Event Details:

    - Date: 7th March 2024

    - Time: 12pm – 3pm

    - Location: The Calile Hotel, Brisbane

    - Price $135 (including a three course lunch and beverages)

     For further ticket information, please see here.

  • Fri, October 13, 2023 6:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Israel & Palestinian Territories

    We are incredibly saddened by the terrible situation unfolding over the past days in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Our thoughts are with all of the innocent people impacted by these events. As an industry focused on building connections and understanding between cultures we condemn all violence and hope that peace soon prevails.

    As soon as the news broke, impacted CATO members acted immediately to ensure the safety of their passengers and staff within Israel and suspended all upcoming tours to ensure no new clients would be entering Israel at this time.

    These actions were some 30 hours ahead of the increase of travel warnings through the DFAT Smartraveller system. This highlights the proactive approach of CATO members who base their decisions on multiple data sources including their on-ground teams and agents.  Booking through an Australian based CATO member provides the highest level of support for Australian travellers and travel agents.

    At this stage travel to Israel will remain suspended for some time. Travel agents and travellers should check with individual CATO members for the latest information on travel to Israel.

    Egypt and Jordan

    Both Egypt and Jordan remain open to visitors with all tours operating as scheduled.  Security measures generally in each country have been increased but all hotels and tourist sights are open and operating as normal. 

    October marks the start of the high season for travel to both Egypt and Jordan with travellers from all over the world coming to experience the wonders of the ancient world, the incredible natural scenery and the warmth and rich culture of the local people.  This includes a large number of Australians travelling with CATO tour operators and wholesalers.

    CATO members are reporting that Australian travellers currently in Egypt and Jordan are continuing to enjoy their tours as normal. 

    Whilst Israeli tourists in Egypt have returned back to Israel there are no reports of significant cancellations from any other markets. 

    Travel agents and travellers are advised to check with their CATO tour operator or wholesaler for any further updates.

  • Fri, September 29, 2023 1:55 PM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is excited to announce the European Travel Commission (ETC), Australian Chapter as the headline sponsor for the upcoming CATO Christmas lunch on Thursday 7th December at Doltone House, Jones Bay Wharf Sydney.

    The European Travel Commission (ETC) and the members of ETC’s Australia Chapter: Atout France, Austrian National Tourist Office, Tourism Ireland, the Italian National Tourist Board, Visit Monaco, Switzerland Tourism, Spain Tourism Board and Visit Portugal, are partnering with CATO to create impact and inspire the industry for 2024 and beyond.

    “It brings us immense pleasure to join hands with ETC once again for this important event in the CATO Calendar. Elevating destination education for our tour operator and wholesaler members, in addition to the wider industry at this event, is an important element of the services provided by this sector of our membership.” said Brett Jardine

    Sofia Hansson, Chair of ETC’s Australia Chapter said, “we are delighted to partner with CATO for the 2023 Industry Christmas Lunch. This event provides an excellent platform to showcase the wonders of Europe, including our stunning landscapes, rich heritage and culture, and the continued focus on sustainability and sustainable travel, which is a key part of ETC’s Horizon 2022 marketing strategy. The NTO members look forward to connecting with the industry and highlighting some of the exciting experiences Australian travellers can enjoy when they visit Europe.”

    In a similar vein, Emanuele Attanasio, Vice-Chair of ETC’s Australia Chapter said, “we are thrilled to re-connect with the tourism industry and are looking forward to partnering with CATO for this exciting event. Europe is well and truly back on the radar with confidence and airlift now resembling pre-pandemic travel conditions. The CATO Christmas lunch is a great opportunity for the National tourist boards to showcase their European destinations.”

    The CATO and ETC partnership, reflected in this event, epitomizes the mutual commitment to enhancing destination awareness through education. This year’s Christmas lunch event has already seen an unprecedented response, with over 300 tickets booked.

  • Mon, September 04, 2023 4:12 PM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) recently engaged in high-level meetings in Canberra with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade). These deliberations serve as a strategic step in CATO's commitment and ongoing mission to ensure that the needs of Australian tour operators and wholesalers are placed at the forefront of national travel and tourism strategies.

    During their dialogue with Austrade, CATO's leadership, including Managing Director Brett Jardine and Chair Dennis Bunnik, charted the course for the continued and effective implementation of the Reviving International Tourism Grant Program (RITG), to ensure the seamless distribution of funding under Stream 1, part 2 of the program. 

    This program stands as a testament to the government's commitment and has played a pivotal role in providing support to tour operators and wholesalers in these challenging times. CATO expressed heartfelt gratitude to Austrade on behalf of the industry for the government's invaluable backing through the RITG program.

    Jardine emphasised, “The RITG has been instrumental in empowering tour operators and wholesalers to re-establish crucial international links with supply chains."

    Recognising CATO's insights, Austrade highlighted the indispensability of industry-wide collaboration, asserting the value of diverse perspectives in moulding robust international leisure travel policies.

    CATO's strategic dialogue with DFAT, through a meeting with the new First Assistant Secretary, Ciara Spencer and her team, revolved around global insights, booking trends, and industry evolution. As CATO and DFAT celebrate two decades of collaboration through the Consular Consultative Group (CCG), the recent talks underscored CATO’s pivotal role as the sector's voice.

    These sessions reinforce CATO's dedication to fostering alliances that not only amplify the voice of Australian tour operators and wholesaler stakeholders but also ensure their pivotal contributions are recognised. With an unwavering commitment, CATO continues to navigate the dynamic international tourism domain, its efforts bolstered by strategic partnerships with entities such as Austrade and DFAT.







  • Fri, September 01, 2023 4:42 PM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators is calling for an urgent review of the Government’s decision to block Qatar Airways request for additional flights into Australia.  CATO is also seeking greater transparency into these decisions going forward.

    The lack of transparency around the reasons for the rejection of Qatar Airways’ request has led to unnecessary speculation and stresses which hinder effective planning and could ultimately lead to hesitation from other airlines looking to launch flights to Australia. 

    CATO members operating both domestically and internationally are seeing their recovery hampered by high fares and limited flights which are deterring passengers from booking travel to and from Australia.  

    Additional air capacity into Australia will provide immediate relief from high fares, boost the economy and create more jobs.

    “Affordable airfares are vital for the recovery of the entire travel and tourism industry and the broader Australian visitor economy. We therefore request that the government urgently review this decision and we seek greater clarity on how these decisions are made. “ said Brett Jardine, Managing Director CATO. 

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