- Australia's peak cruise, touring and tourism export bodies have forged closer ties during the COVID pandemic, collaborating across areas of common concern and advocacy.
- Recent meetings have confirmed unified support for their respective sectors.
The Council of Australia Tour Operators (CATO) met with fellow industry bodies in recent weeks —Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC)—with a view to confirming relevant cross-sector support.
CATO's Adelaide-based chairman, Dennis Bunnik, took advantage of the recently re-opened South Australia-New South Wales border to visit Sydney for high-level meetings with the other industry associations.
"Throughout the COVID crisis, CATO has vigorously advocated for industry unity and working together for the greater good. These high-level meetings with CLIA and ATEC were an important part of this process," said Bunnik.
Through the series of meetings, conversations centred around joint concerns over border closures, government support, media coverage, COVID-safe travel protocols and the rebuilding of consumer confidence post-pandemic.
Describing the collaborative efforts, CATO's Managing Director Brett Jardine noted that, "Even though each association is dealing with its own unique challenges around COVID, there are common threads that are important to explore for the benefit of all of us."
Image: Joel Katz and Gavin Smith from CLIA, with CATO's Dennis Bunnik and Brett Jardine.
CATO's discussions with CLIA acknowledged that the industry sectors they represent produce an enormous quantity of the product supplied to—and marketed cooperatively through—travel agents.
"CATO and CLIA members are heavily invested in retail distribution. It's clear that both sectors will play a vital role in leading the recovery of the outbound travel industry," says Jardine.
The two bodies also shared information on government lobbying efforts around border issues, and committed to continue working together on this and other areas of mutual interest.
CATO leadership also met with ATEC's Managing Director, Peter Shelley, to consider the travel industry’s product distribution eco-system, and the importance of tour operators, wholesalers and Inbound Tour Operators which are largely hidden from government view but will be critical for the industry’s recovery.
Image: ATEC’s Peter Shelley with Brett Jardine and Dennis Bunnik from CATO.
"Whilst CATO is focused primarily on outbound travel, and ATEC focused on inbound, our needs are 100% complimentary as our members’ products and services underpin aviation capacity into and out of Australia. It is vital that we join forces in supporting a coordinated plan to open our borders," says Jardine.