The discussion paper was produced with industry-wide input and identifies two key areas of reform:
- ATAS - the AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme.
- The establishment of a comprehensive consumer-funded insolvency protection scheme.
The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has released a discussion paper with the view of creating a path forward for the Australian outbound travel industry post-COVID.
CLICK HERE to access the discussion paper.
"A few months ago, CATO called for suggestions for industry reform. The aim being to use the COVID crisis to break down some of the industry’s silos and find a way to come out stronger."
CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine
The response was significant with CATO receiving submissions and ideas from all over the industry.
"Two issues in particular were raised time and again. These related to a consumer protection scheme, and reforming ATAS - the AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme. Our discussion paper is intended to spark debate and discussion on these topics," added Jardine.
The CATO Board developed the discussion paper over a two-month period.
The reform CATO is proposing is two-fold:
- Broadening the scope of ATAS with separate versions for travel agents, tour operators, wholesalers and cruise lines. CATO proposes that ATAS become the 'Australian Travel Accreditation Scheme'.
Whilst still administered by AFTA, the desire is for such a scheme to be overseen by an independent board with representation from each outbound sector—retail, land supply and cruise—that would sign off on the accreditation criteria for their respective sectors.
"We believe this will significantly broaden ATAS membership and bring many non-accredited businesses into the fold," Jardine said.
- Secondly, the establishment of a comprehensive consumer-funded insolvency protection scheme compulsory for all international leisure bookings but only available through ATAS-accredited entities.
CATO believes that, if adopted, the proposals would provide consumer protection against supplier insolvency, industry protection against credit card chargebacks, and a compelling reason for Australians to book with ATAS-accredited entities thereby protecting the local travel industry.
"Our industry is in the biggest crisis it has ever faced. Now is the time to come together. Now is the time to reassess everything and to see if there’s a way for our industry to come out better than we went in," asserts Jardine.