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

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  • Mon, June 17, 2024 12:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today announced that Liz Anderson will be stepping down from the Board on Wednesday June 19, concluding her 8 years as a Director.

    “The eight years that Liz served on the CATO board were the most transformative time in the Association’s history.  She helped shape the CATO that exists today and in the process has created significant value for both the membership and the broader touring sector. I have greatly valued her input, wisdom and friendship and will miss her on the board,”  stated Dennis Bunnik, CATO Chair.

    "I have chosen not to re-nominate for my position as a Director of the CATO Board, a decision that comes at a time of deep pride in our collective achievements. Over my eight-year tenure, I have had the privilege of contributing significantly to CATO's growth and success. Despite facing some of the most formidable challenges our industry has ever encountered, our sectors unwavering collaborative spirit has resulted in transformative changes and substantial learning. As I step down, I am excited to continue following CATO's progression and look forward to dedicating my efforts to new challenges in the industry as a member of the SETO board." said Liz Anderson

    "In my role as Managing Director, I have deeply valued Liz's support and strategic guidance. Her contributions have been instrumental in shaping CATO's direction and I am personally grateful for her commitment to our goals and her support in executing our strategic vision," stated Brett Jardine.

  • Tue, May 07, 2024 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is excited to announce its upcoming 25th Anniversary Dinner. This prestigious event for members will be held at the iconic Sydney Hilton Hotel on Thursday, 20th June, following the 2024 Annual General Meeting (AGM). The celebratory dinner will honour CATO's enduring commitment and dynamic leadership in the Australian land supply sector.

    Since its foundation in 1999, CATO has been a cornerstone of innovation and ethical practices within the land-supply sector of the Australian travel industry. For 25 years, CATO has diligently worked to elevate industry standards, foster innovation, and advocate for sustainable tourism practices.

    The Anniversary Dinner will not only commemorate CATO's historic milestones but will also provide an invaluable opportunity for members to network and reflect on numerous significant achievements. These include robust support for members during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, which remains ongoing as the industry continues to rebuild.

    A highlight of recent initiatives is the introduction of the enhanced CATO Accreditation Program. This program now includes an annual financial health check conducted independently by a CATO-appointed external accounting firm, ensuring the ongoing financial resilience of member organisations.

    Addressing the industry’s skills shortage, CATO has also launched the CATO Touring Academy. This pioneering initiative is designed to enhance the skill sets of retail travel agents and individuals new to the sector, fostering a well-equipped workforce ready to meet future challenges.

    “We are thrilled to mark this significant milestone in CATO’s history. This event is a celebration of the dedication and collaborative spirit of our members, whose steadfast commitment has driven CATO to new heights over the past 25 years.”said Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director.

    The evening will also recognise Peter Baily, founder and Life Member of CATO, and will be complemented by gourmet cuisine and an atmosphere of camaraderie and celebration, reflecting the spirit and achievements of CATO over the past quarter-century.

  • Wed, April 17, 2024 9:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is thrilled to confirm Flight Centre as its formal launch partner of the new CATO Touring Academy.

    This strategic partnership underscores Flight Centre’s commitment to excellence in professional development and providing clients with expertly crafted travel experiences.

    The CATO Touring Academy will formally launch with Flight Centre as its inaugural partner on Monday 22nd of April, offering a comprehensive certification program for travel agents.

    Over the next three years, Flight Centre has pledged to integrate the CATO Touring Academy’s comprehensive certification program into its agent training framework.

    "This collaboration epitomises the power of unity within the travel sector, aimed at elevating the overall calibre of travel consultancy services. Flight Centre’s steadfast commitment highlights the pivotal role of continuous learning and expertise in shaping the future of travel." said Brett Jardine, Managing Director, CATO.

    Flight Centre Global Managing Director Andrew Stark said partnering with the CATO Touring Academy was a natural progression for the company. "Whether we're booking group tours through Europe or solo explorations in our own mesmerising backyard, Flight Centre is always seeking avenues to build our industry knowledge and improve our tour offering for customers. This alliance enables us to tap into a reservoir of additional experience, ensuring our consultants are equipped with a comprehensive skill-base to offer our customers a powerhouse of tour deals with expert service."

    The collaboration between CATO and Flight Centre sets a new industry standard, promising to enrich the travel planning process for consumers and contribute to the ongoing success of Australian travel professionals.

    For more information about the CATO Touring Academy, visit

  • Wed, April 10, 2024 12:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is thrilled to announce the addition of Travel Agent Day Australia (TADA ‘24) as a new Platinum Partner. TADA ‘24, a groundbreaking event set to make its debut on October 2nd, 2024, at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium.

    TADA '24 is designed as a dynamic platform for showcasing products and destinations, emphasising the creation of meaningful connections within the industry. It offers a unique opportunity for CATO members to participate as exhibitors, with Reviving International Tourism Grant (RITG) Program grantees benefiting from Austrade's approval to use grant funds for participation fees.

    The event offers a prime opportunity to present products to a dedicated group of industry peers, enhance networks at exclusive gatherings, contribute to pivotal travel industry conversations, and celebrate industry achievements during a prestigious awards night. Each exhibitor package will also include an extra delegate pass.

    “We are excited about the potential TADA ’24 holds for our industry and warmly invite industry members to be an integral part of this inaugural event. Join us in recognising and celebrating the critical role of travel consultants in enriching Australia's travel landscape.” Said Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director.

    For registration and more information visit or contact Priscila Mills at

  • Thu, April 04, 2024 10:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In an unprecedented move, the Federal Government has recognised the indispensable contributions that Australian tour operators and wholesalers make to the economy, by injecting an additional $8,000 of funding to CATO members that have been successful Reviving International Tourism Grant (RITG) Program grantees, administered through Austrade.

    This enhancement brings the total program funding to a substantial $44,000 for grantees that are a CATO Member. In addition to this increase, the scope of the program has been broadened to include access to a wider array of international events, whilst completion dates have also been extended.

    Following extensive collaboration and advocacy efforts with the Federal Government through Austrade, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is thrilled with the confirmation of these further enhancements to the RITG Program.

    “The funding has been a major benefit to Australian inbound and outbound tour operators and travel wholesalers and on behalf of members, CATO would like to express our sincere gratitude to Austrade and the Federal Tourism Minister for their support throughout the RITG Program.” said Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director.

    “The list of eligible events has also been broadened to encompass a diverse array of international opportunities, ensuring maximum value for grantees, with prior approval from Austrade being mandatory for event attendance before utilising funds.” added Jardine.

    Key Highlights:

    Stream 1 – Connecting with International Markets

    - Additional $2,000 per successful grantee

    - Expansion of eligible international events

    - Extension of usage deadline from 30 June 2024 to 31 December 2024

    - Extension of activity completion date from 31 December 2024 to 31 March 2025

    Stream 2 – Digital Uplift

    - Additional $6,000 per successful grantee

    - Extension of usage deadline from 30 June 2024 to 31 March 2025

  • Mon, March 18, 2024 11:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) convened in Canberra last week to address key government departments on the status of the land-supply sector of the Australian Travel Industry.

    Following years of fostering strong relevant relationships, CATO is widely recognised across key areas of government due to its expert knowledge and intimate understanding of distribution within the global travel ecosystem.

    In a proactive effort to continue driving outbound leisure travel, the CATO leadership held constructive discussions with Austrade to evaluate the efficacy of the Reviving International Travel Grant (RITG) program, with dialogue centred on expanding the program to bolster opportunities for successful grantees within the CATO membership.

    A pivotal visit to the Egyptian Embassy saw CATO delegates affirming the robust growth in tourism traffic to Egypt, with a significant 42% increase in 2023 from 2018, matching the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. The meeting with His Excellency Mr. Hani Nagi, the newly appointed Ambassador to Australia, unveiled the positive trajectory of Egypt's tourism sector, the anticipated launch of the new Egyptian Museum (GEM), and other key developments.

    Discussions were held around the inconsistency of DFAT’s Smarttraveller advice level compared to other countries in the region, with Egypt playing a pivotal role in attracting tourism to the Middle East. The Ambassador highlighted the work the Egyptian Government is doing to grow, protect and develop the tourism industry.  

    Brett Jardine CATO Managing Director remarked “At a recent meeting DFAT confirmed to CATO that the Smarttraveller advice on Egypt is due for review in coming weeks.  In light of this, discussions were held on how CATO, its members and the Egyptian Embassy can work together to further boost Australian tourism to Egypt and the surrounding region.” 

    During the mission, CATO also convened a productive session with Tourism Research Australia (TRA) to expand on current project plans for an extensive economic impact study and report to support outbound leisure travel.

    The proposed economic impact study aims to utilise a variety of data sources that will provide invaluable insights into the industry's current state and future trajectory, empowering stakeholders with data-driven strategies for sustainable growth.

    CATO remains committed to championing initiatives that foster resilience and prosperity within the Australian travel industry. By collaborating with key stakeholders and leveraging data-driven strategies, CATO Advocacy is poised to lead the industry towards a vibrant and sustainable future.

  • Thu, March 14, 2024 1:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last Thursday, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) delivered its 2nd annual International Women's Day (IWD) Luncheon, a dynamic event that brought together more than 200 industry leaders, influencers, and visionaries to celebrate the achievements of women in travel.

    Held in Brisbane at the iconic Calile Hotel, the CATO IWD Luncheon was a resounding triumph, drawing an impressive gathering of professionals with the theme of the day as “Our Rising Stars”, that showcased the next generation of female travel industry leaders on a panel hosted by CATO Vice-Chair, Lisa Pagotto.

    The event also featured an inspiring keynote address from renowned Australian Author, Travel Writer, Environmentalist, and Creative Mentor, Nina Karnikowski focusing on being a more mindful traveller.

    Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director, expressed enthusiasm about the event's impact, stating, "The success of our IWD Luncheon underscores CATO's commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within the travel industry. We are delighted to see the positive response from our members and the broader community."

    Attendees also heard from leading industry figures in Toni Ambler, Managing Director TTC Tour Brands and Collette President, Jaclyn Leible-Cote who both laid the foundation for meaningful conversations and connections, reinforcing CATO's dedication to fostering a more inclusive and equitable industry.

    Jardine extended his thanks to sponsors of the event, The Travel Corporation (Major), Collette (Welcome Event), Entire Travel Group and Bunnik Tours (Supporting) and added, “As CATO continues to champion diversity and recognise the invaluable contributions of women in travel, the IWD Luncheon stands as a testament to CATO’s commitment to creating a vibrant and supportive community for all industry professionals”.

  • Mon, March 04, 2024 1:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) have today announced the launch of the CATO Touring Academy, a significant initiative tailored for retail agents and other newcomers to the travel industry.

    In response to the industry’s ongoing need for skilled professionals, CATO’s pioneering certification program developed in collaboration with touring experts is designed to offer accessible sector-specific training delivered online through an internationally recognised platform.

    As the landscape of touring continues to evolve, the demand for comprehensive knowledge to confidently and effectively promote the wide variety of options available is paramount to take advantage of the high paying commissions on offer to agents.

    The CATO Touring Academy addresses this demand, equipping travel agents with the necessary skills, expertise and greater capability in selling land-based holidays around the globe. This ultimately leads to a formal certification issued by CATO, the peak travel industry body representing Australian-based tour operators and wholesalers.

    “Set to commence in Q2 2024, the CATO Touring Academy represents a major step forward in support of our members and the retail travel agent community. Our academy will provide a flexible and personalised e-learning journey allowing participants to gain expertise at their own pace, culminating in the attainment of CATO Certified status upon successful completion, said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    Key Program Details:

    • Participants will be required to accumulate 200 points through module completion and activities that lead to CATO Certification.
    • The academies e-learning path will feature;
      • Mandatory Modules (20 points each)
      • Elective Modules (15 points each)
      • CATO Member Brand and Destination Training (10 points each)
    • Other activity that will be recognised toward certification includes;
      • Participation CATO Member Familiarisations of 5-days or more (10 points each)
      • Completion of other endorsed CATO member brand training

    Jardine added, “the CATO Touring Academy is leveraging the internationally recognised Learning Management Software (LMS) provider, ABSORB, to deliver this cutting-edge program as the partnership ensures a robust and user-friendly learning experience for all participants. CATO Certified Agents can promote their status demonstrating their knowledge and expertise gained through completion of their certification.”

    An exclusive feature of the Academy is that CATO Members will have direct access to the Touring Academy platform, allowing them to build their own “white label” training content. This unique aspect empowers CATO members to tailor the learning material to align closely with each brands unique selling points, effectively communicating the depth and variety of land-based holiday options available through Australian operators.

  • 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.

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