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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.
With just over two weeks to go, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is thrilled to announce an exciting line up of sponsors supporting the inaugural Travel Trivia Masters event.
Alongside European Travel Commission as Platinum Sponsor and Air Canada as Gold Sponsor, other supporting sponsors are Total Holiday Options, Spain Tourism, Abercrombie & Kent, Greece & Mediterranean Travel Centre, Abu Dhabi Tourism, A-Rosa, Finnair, Quark Expeditions, Travel Agent Finder and Traveltek.
Richard Taylor, founder of Travel Community Hub and best known for hosting more than 200 webinar discussions that became a recognised source of connection, community and discussion for many people during the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, has been appointed as the MC for the event.
“Our intent was always to create an event for the whole industry, so we are thrilled at the overwhelming response across all sectors and extremely grateful to the support received from a range of sponsors across the industry. We look forward to seeing all the creativity on the evening, as the Country/Culture themes are brought to life, through costumes and content” said CATO MD, Brett Jardine.
The event taking place on Thursday the 4th of August will comprise of networking, trivia, a DJ, video booth, prizes and surprises.
Tickets are almost sold out and we encourage industry partners not to miss out by registering for this event here.
There are a few remaining sponsorship package opportunities left and for those companies interested, please contact CATO on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is delighted to announce that the Australian chapter of the European Travel Commission (ETC) will be the headline, platinum sponsor of the Travel Trivia Masters. This includes the following NTO’s which are members: Atout France, Austria, Flanders (Belgium), Ireland, Italy, Monaco, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.
Sofia Hansson, Chair of the ETC’s Australia Chapter said, “We are delighted to partner with CATO for the Travel Trivia Masters this year. There are positive signs of recovery, especially with the ease of restrictions and gradual increase in air access, and events like this provide us with an excellent platform to spread the good word about the many great experiences that Australian travellers can enjoy around Europe.”
Livio Goetz, Vice Chair, ETC Australian Chapter added, “With more air access now, including direct flights to Rome, Europe is open to Australian travellers, and this event provides the perfect platform to re-educate the travel trade on Europe and our destinations in a fun and engaging way.”
The event taking place on Thursday the 4th of August, invites travel agents, CATO members, and other key industry personnel to enter teams of 10 for a two-course sit-down dinner and drinks.
CATO MD, Brett Jardine echoed Goetz’s comments by saying, “We are thrilled the ETC Australian chapter is partnering with us for the inaugural Travel Trivia Masters. We look forward to experiencing on the night their showcase of what’s on offer for Europe, utilising trivia as the education platform.”
With just under a month to go until the inaugural CATO Travel Trivia Masters, tickets are selling out fast and over half of the sponsorship packages have been secured. To register for this event please click here
To find out more about tailored sponsorship opportunities for the event contact CATO on email@example.com
In line with the direction of the associations strategic plan for 2022/23, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today announced the appointment of Brett Harvey as Business Development & Events Manager.
This new role, which will sit across both CATO and sister association, the Student Educational Travel Organisation (SETO), will be fundamental in expanding membership, re-establishing and growing CATO’s annual events program and identifying new revenue opportunities for both associations.
Brett has over 22 years’ experience in the travel industry and largely known for his Business Development and Partnership roles of 5 years with the Intrepid Group, and his role of 12 years with The Travel Corporation. He has spent the last two years in Bangkok teaching tourism, enterprise and entrepreneurship courses.
“As we move into the recovery phase, we recognise the increased support and initiatives that is needed for our membership, to help them through these challenging times. Bringing in additional revenue streams will allow us to realise and activate our plans across multiple areas, to further assist our members as they rebuild their businesses” said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.
“It is an exciting time for CATO and Brett Harvey - his knowledge and experience will add great value to the CATO membership” added Jardine.
Australia’s travel and tourism businesses thank the Morrison Government and Federal Tourism Minister the Hon Dan Tehan for the decision to release the outstanding $75.5 million approved as part of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program.
Peak Industry bodies the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) and Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) applaud the decision which will provide much needed support for travel professionals and businesses across Australia supporting outbound and inbound tourism.
“It is critically important that these funds are distributed quickly to those eligible businesses and we believe the revised eligibility framework will facilitate that. Australians travelling are relying on their travel professionals now more than ever and this financial support is needed to start the process of rebuilding including replacing the 15,000 highly skilled people lost across Australia due to the financial devastation of COVID-restrictions and travel bans.”
“Securing support for our people and the wider sector has been an intense campaign which AFTA has invested in over every single day of the past two years. We are very grateful for the ongoing support of Federal Tourism Minister the Hon Dan Tehan and we continue to work closely with the Morrison Government on the recovery of Australia’s Travel Sector.”
“We thank the Minister for taking up our concerns about the initial eligibility framework and implementation of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program and we trust that these issues will not be repeated with the distribution of the remaining $75 million.”
“We also thank Pat Conaghan, Federal Member for Cowper for his sustained effort in championing the need for ongoing support for the Travel Sector along with the many Members of Parliament who have met with and continue to meet with their local travel professionals.”
Quotes from ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley
“While international visitors are now free to come to Australia, our members estimate the gap between borders re-opening and the point at which they are likely to see any meaningful business will be 6-12 months,” ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley said. “This additional funding will help our ITO’s get over that last hurdle and back into the market providing support in re-tooling these businesses with the experienced staff and booking conversion activity that will be required to rebuild Australia as a destination. We are pleased the Government has recognised the unique needs of these segments of the tourism industry and is willing to support, in particular, the future success of our tourism export businesses.”
Quotes attributable to CATO Managing Director Brett Jardine
“We would like to acknowledge and thank Federal Tourism Minister the Hon Dan Tehan and the Morrison Government for addressing our urgent need for support and provide critical funding to our sector businesses and the wider industry during this time.”
“This will continue to be a challenging 6-12 months ahead for our sector as revenues are not realised until travel takes place, and businesses will be required to honour their commitment to deliver on travel credits. With this funding support, businesses can now start to invest as they rebuild, re-employ and retain staff in the industry, and put in place processes to ensure Australians are able to travel safely and with confidence.”
“Our key focus as an Association during the past two years has been to continually advocate for the much-needed support for our members, to all levels of Government. As a wider industry our close collaboration with AFTA, CLIA, and ATEC has elevated and addressed the concerns of the industry further to Government and the Media.”
Quotes attributable to CLIA Managing Director Joel Katz
“Support for travel agents and other travel industry professionals is critical right now as we work to achieve a recovery in Australia’s travel sector. This latest initiative will provide welcome benefit to thousands of Australian businesses and individuals – many of whom will play a vital role in reviving Australia’s cruise economy and bringing back billions of dollars in economic opportunities for communities around Australia’s coasts.”
“As cruise lines work towards a careful resumption in Australia, it’s important to recognise the key role played by travel agents and other local industry suppo
A new Australian peak body, the Student Educational Travel Organisation (SETO), has been established under the umbrella of the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO). The newly established not for profit company will lead the educational travel sector in areas of governance, advocacy, and education with a vision to accelerate education outside of the classroom, ensuring every student can access and benefit from experiential learning opportunities achieved through travel.
SETO has been set up to function as a conduit between the travel and education sectors incorporating specialist educational travel tour operators, suppliers, teachers, schools, and universities.
Brett Jardine, CATO and SETO Managing Director said, “The formation of SETO was something that CATO had been planning over the past two years. We acknowledged there was a need in the market for specialisation in the growing educational travel sector. COVID has allowed us the time to appoint a SETO board of directors that reflects the niche market of educational travel and they have worked tirelessly on bringing the idea to fruition. We are delighted to unveil the new Australian peak body to provide an important voice to this market at this crucial time as borders begin to open.”
There are 10,600 schools and universities in Australia, with over five million students, 89% of these students are under 18 years of age and excited to learn through travel exploration. Education and exploration outside the classroom, covers such programs as study tours, sports tours, ski trips, music and performance tours, language immersion trips, expeditions, and service trips, all forming an essential part of student life.
Jardine noted, “SETO was the inspiration of CATO board member David Walker who has been appointed as the inaugural Chairman. SETO will fill a gap in the industry, with the idea gaining momentum through the collaboration of existing CATO members specialising in the field of education travel. Anne-Marie Mitchell of GET Education Tours, Jamie Wansey of Student Horizons, Liz Anderson of Sundowners Overland and Pete Fletcher of World Challenge, all providing extensive input in the initial stages with each of their respective businesses recognised as founding members.
Walker who is also Managing Director of Educational Adventures said, “Learning outside the classroom is an essential part of student development as they move towards their future career in the real world. SETO is committed to ensuring these student opportunities continue to grow, in a safe and sustainable travel environment supported by an elevated level of quality assurance.
“For teachers who organise student school trips, the happiness and wellbeing of the student provides the teacher with their greatest reward and knowledge that the student is broadening their horizons, becoming more culturally aware and experiencing a positive impact on their personal development,” he said.
Membership of SETO is a hallmark of competence and integrity for student travel tour operators and suppliers of products and/or services for the Australian travel education sector. SETO certified members are specialists who work in conjunction with education departments and schools to make the student's journey a more meaningful and safer experience.
Membership applications are now open for Tour Operator/Wholesaler Membership, Dual SETO/CATO Membership and Associate Membership at www.seto.net.au
The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today announced an exciting partnership with Bonailie and One Earth, as part of its mandate to further support its members through education, as the industry begins to prepare for recovery, following international border openings.
This partnership will provide CATO members with access to a purpose-led, community platform, which has a significant focus on educational programs and content. This program will greatly assist members to shift businesses and mindsets to a 21st century model and approach.
It is designed to provide support to all member businesses which have been under enormous pressure during the pandemic, through loss of income and reduction in staff. The next six months will continue to be incredibly challenging, with reduced staff and inexperienced new employees, as customers utilise travel credits, and travel demand increases exponentially, following the long international hiatus.
Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO said, “During the last 12 months, CATO has prioritised its focus and time on its Advocacy Pillar to drive our lobbying efforts for the land-supply sector due to the necessity arising from the impact of the global pandemic. Whilst these efforts will continue, we recognise the need to provide additional value to our members, and so we plan to introduce new concepts to our Education Pillar to support the rebuild and recovery of our industry”.
“CATO has taken time to reflect during the pandemic on the current operations of the land supply sector and as a result we have assessed the future proofing requirements for the sector, to ensure sustainability whilst protecting customers. As part of that overarching strategy, we have implemented several new initiatives, and we aim to further support our members, through educational tools tailored for business owners and managers to reflect new business models and adapt to a constantly changing environment,” said Jardine.
Julie King, Founder & CEO of Bonailie said, “We are delighted to be partnering with CATO to support its members in this new phase of recovery. The educational opportunities which will be provided as part of the partnership with One Earth, through the ‘Find Your Formula, Audit Your Business for Growth’ Program, will assist members to review gaps in their businesses and make changes across Brand, Product, Channels and Sales. This will provide knowledge on how to “Pull” customers in by leading with “Purpose” rather than push selling, to allow members to scale and grow”.
“CATO members will also have access to a dedicated virtual ‘Classroom’ to collaborate together, a community group to engage together, access to the annual Unite on Purpose Summit (opened by the United Nations), Global Research, Masterclasses, Webinars and Podcasts from both Bonailie and One Earth,” said King.
Jardine said, “I have participated in this program myself and believe it will allow members to think differently about preparing for the growth that the economic trends confirm is ahead”.
As part of Bonailie’s contribution to the industry, for every CATO member signed on to the platform, Bonailie will donate a Bonailie Engage Subscription to an individual or business in need of assistance.
For more information on CATO go to cato.travel and for more information on Bonailie go to Bonailie.world.
CATO has ramped up its extensive discussions with the Federal Government over the last month with meetings with the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison’s Office and Minister for Tourism, Dan Tehan’s Office in order to keep pressure on Government, ahead of the national approach to opening up borders.
CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine said, “Despite vaccine rates rapidly increasing, signifying the resumption of international travel within sight – we are not out of the woods yet. The travel industry needs financial support to enable its recovery. For many, a lack of income over the last two years combined with employee reduction is a difficult starting point for the anticipated pent up travel demand and will place a lot of pressure on businesses, at a time when they need to re-invest”.
CATO has called for continued government financial support to enable sector recovery, combined with a co-ordinated national approach to opening up and staying open once Australia reaches 80% vaccination rate. Jardine said, “CATO’s efforts in supporting the land-supply sector will deliver direct benefit to its travel agent distribution partners”.
“The industry needs to be able to act with confidence in the national approach with clear and transparent communication. It will struggle to survive if it invests in opening, only to have borders shut again. Consumer confidence is crucial to our recovery and the government plays a critical role in the unification of our states around a commitment to opening and allowing our industry to rebuild,” said Jardine.
CATO supports the Federal Government vaccination program and subsequent easing of border restrictions and has been vocal on the importance of home quarantine. CATO Chair, Dennis Bunnik recently appeared on the ABC’s 7.30 Report outlining home quarantine as a solution to one of the ongoing current barriers to travel.
Jardine confirmed that CATO’s continues to send a strong message to government around the structure of the industry. “Whilst borders may open in the coming months, travel businesses are unable to recognise revenue until travel has been undertaken. It is crucial that our sector can invest now to prepare their businesses for recovery, to re-start operations, re-employ and train staff, put in place processes to ensure safe travel and create new products and packages for Australians to be able to travel with confidence once travel resumes,” he said.
CATO formally congratulates Dean Long as new CEO of AFTA and Katrina Barry, MD of The Travel Corporation’s Contiki and Trafalgar brands as new Director on the AFTA Board.
Chairman of CATO, Dennis Bunnik said, “CATO extends our congratulations to both Dean and Katrina on their new roles. We look forward to collaborating with Dean and the AFTA board to drive industry recovery following the pandemic.
“CATO has had a great working relationship with Dean during his previous tenure at AFTA and continues to do so in his current capacity at Australia’s Accommodation Association. We look forward to further strengthening this relationship to ensure a consistent industry approach to leading our industry out of this pandemic stronger and more sustainable than before”.
While progress was made last week with Scott Morrison announcing a four-stage COVID Exit Plan, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) urgently calls for hard timelines and transparency around the trigger points for each phase of the plan, to allow the industry to protect their businesses until international borders open.
Dennis Bunnik, Chairman of CATO said, “What the Federal Government is not taking into consideration is that businesses in the travel industry cannot continue to borrow financially, in order to keep their doors open for an indiscriminate amount of time. We need more than a commitment to create a plan – we need dates and scientific numbers”.
“The travel industry needs clear trigger points regarding vaccination levels for easing both domestic and international border restrictions. We need a simple and easy-to-access Vaccination Passport for non-restricted domestic travel – this can be used to incentivise vaccinations so that Australians can see the positive benefits of getting the jab. We also need approval of a 7-day home quarantine option for returning, fully-vaccinated international travellers”.
There is a three-month lead time between the first AstraZeneca vaccination and the second. Bunnik highlighted the fact that there needs to be more public messaging about planning ahead for travel and not waiting till the borders open before deciding to be vaccinated, as this may prolong travel further for consumers (three months plus) particularly for the over 50s and 60s.
Bunnik added, “The Government needs to protect the remaining high-skilled jobs in the travel sector through extending grant schemes and improving eligibility. In tandem, it needs to work with the travel industry to prepare for a return of international travel to avoid massive skills shortage and enable Australians to travel safely”.
· Many companies are fully extended financially and need transparency on how much longer they need to subsist without an income, in order to determine whether they can afford to go deeper into debt.
· Businesses need to know if a) they can afford to keep staff on until borders open and b) manage the work-load if travel resumes across domestic borders and international.
· Travel companies need to start creating travel products – this takes time and investment
Bunnik explained that it ultimately comes down to vaccinations needing to be more urgently available to the entire population and encouraged consumers who meet the criteria now to take up the opportunity to be vaccinated. “This will allow them the freedom to fly and reconnect with their family, loved ones, friends and or colleagues both domestically and internationally and to say goodbye to lockdowns and cancelled domestic travel,” he said.