The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has spent this week in Canberra meeting various Government Departments in a bid to further strengthen relationships, and continue its advocacy on areas impacting members, as they struggle to emerge from the effects of the pandemic.
The week commenced with CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine and CATO Chair, Dennis Bunnik, meeting with the Deputy Chief of Staff and Tourism Policy Advisor from Federal Tourism Minister Don Farrell’s office.
CATO were provided with an overview of a major staff re-structure that was now complete, with MD Brett Jardine saying, “we are pleased to be able to continue our engagement with supportive and knowledgeable individuals that now hold key roles within the Ministers office.”
Separate meetings were held with Tourism Research Australia (TRA), Treasury, DFAT and Austrade, where CATO Board Members Lisa Pagotto and James O’Donnell joined Brett Jardine and Dennis Bunnik.
During the pandemic, CATO worked closely with TRA to help define the true value of outbound leisure travel (more than AUD$12 billion) to the Australian Economy. This work will provide a credible source of data, necessary to ensure our narrative around the value our members provide Australian consumers, as they explore the world. CATO and TRA have committed to an MOU that will detail a scope of works around a major data analysis project that will commence before the end of 2022.
A further meeting with senior Treasury officials provided a necessary update on the state of the outbound land-supply sector. CATO representatives highlighted three key areas of concern that are impacting members as they struggle to emerge from the effects of the pandemic. These being air capacity, re-employment of skilled workers and consumer confidence.
“Our ongoing relationship with Treasury is important for government to be well-informed on our challenges”, continued Jardine.
Finally, a formal industry update was provided at a meeting with Austrade, whose role has now formally expanded as the lead agency across tourism research and export market development grants to also include tourism recovery. Austrade is seeking to understand Australians current propensity to travel, the ongoing use of future travel credits v’s new business, and feedback from organisations that have availed travel. A further update will be provided in the coming weeks, following input from members.
To conclude the week, CATO have been invited to participate in two major events in Canberra on Friday 5th August. The first joining a roundtable of senior leaders from tourism peak bodies with Minister Hon. Don Farrell and thereafter a roundtable session at Austrade, to provide input into the Australian Government Jobs and Skills Summit. Board Member/Director, James O’Donnell, The Travel Corporation will represent CATO at these meetings.