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image courtesy: Austria Tourism, Nationalpark Hohe Tauern Karten/ Franz Gerdi

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

  • Mon, October 30, 2023 10:02 AM | Deleted user

    On Thursday, 26th October, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) hosted a successful Victorian Members Networking Event at the funky Madame Brussels in Melbourne CBD. The event drew a record attendance including members of the CATO Board, who were in town to host the event ahead of their annual strategy day on Friday, 27th October.

    Frontera Law, a valued Platinum Partner and CATO Board Member Aaron Zoanetti's new law firm, generously sponsored this Victorian Members Networking Event.  

    CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine and Chair, Dennis Bunnik provided attendees with a comprehensive update on current CATO activity that continues to deliver targeted member support. 

    “The overwhelming response from our Victorian based members and the event's success demonstrates the solid state of the CATO community and its dedication to the advancement of Australia's travel industry”, said Jardine. 

  • Tue, October 17, 2023 10:56 AM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is thrilled to announce the return of its celebrated International Women's Day Lunch in 2024. This signature event, held in Brisbane on March 7th, will be hosted at the renowned Calile Hotel, a perennial fixture on lists of the world's top 50 hotels, providing the perfect backdrop for an inspiring day of empowerment.

    CATO's International Women's Day Lunch has evolved into a pivotal occasion, dedicated to recognising the exceptional contributions of its female members who are at the forefront of reshaping the travel and tourism industry.

    Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO said "We are looking forward to hearing invaluable insights, personal stories, and experiences that promise to ignite inspiration among all in attendance, aligning perfectly with the theme of IWD 2024. We are also delighted to announce our headline sponsor for IWD 2024, The Travel Corporation, and supporting sponsor, Entire Travel Group. We extend our heartfelt thanks to them for their unwavering support."

    "Embodying The Travel Corporation's unwavering dedication to empowering women and our deep commitment to fostering meaningful connections through our transformative Make Travel Matter experiences worldwide, we are proud to sponsor the CATO International Women's Day lunch. It's a fantastic occasion to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women within the touring sector while eagerly anticipating a bright future for our emerging leaders” said Toni Ambler, Managing Director of TTC Tour Brands & Ben Hall CEO of AAT Kings in a joint statement.

    This year's lunch promises to once again be a dynamic and engaging experience. We invite industry professionals, enthusiasts, and all who share our passion for travel, to join us for a lively discussion as we celebrate the innovative women of CATO, who contribute immeasurable value to the travel industry as a whole.

    Event Details:

    - Date: 7th March 2024

    - Time: 12pm – 3pm

    - Location: The Calile Hotel, Brisbane

    - Price $135 (including a three course lunch and beverages)

     For further ticket information, please see here.

  • Fri, October 13, 2023 6:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Israel & Palestinian Territories

    We are incredibly saddened by the terrible situation unfolding over the past days in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Our thoughts are with all of the innocent people impacted by these events. As an industry focused on building connections and understanding between cultures we condemn all violence and hope that peace soon prevails.

    As soon as the news broke, impacted CATO members acted immediately to ensure the safety of their passengers and staff within Israel and suspended all upcoming tours to ensure no new clients would be entering Israel at this time.

    These actions were some 30 hours ahead of the increase of travel warnings through the DFAT Smartraveller system. This highlights the proactive approach of CATO members who base their decisions on multiple data sources including their on-ground teams and agents.  Booking through an Australian based CATO member provides the highest level of support for Australian travellers and travel agents.

    At this stage travel to Israel will remain suspended for some time. Travel agents and travellers should check with individual CATO members for the latest information on travel to Israel.

    Egypt and Jordan

    Both Egypt and Jordan remain open to visitors with all tours operating as scheduled.  Security measures generally in each country have been increased but all hotels and tourist sights are open and operating as normal. 

    October marks the start of the high season for travel to both Egypt and Jordan with travellers from all over the world coming to experience the wonders of the ancient world, the incredible natural scenery and the warmth and rich culture of the local people.  This includes a large number of Australians travelling with CATO tour operators and wholesalers.

    CATO members are reporting that Australian travellers currently in Egypt and Jordan are continuing to enjoy their tours as normal. 

    Whilst Israeli tourists in Egypt have returned back to Israel there are no reports of significant cancellations from any other markets. 

    Travel agents and travellers are advised to check with their CATO tour operator or wholesaler for any further updates.

  • Fri, September 29, 2023 1:55 PM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is excited to announce the European Travel Commission (ETC), Australian Chapter as the headline sponsor for the upcoming CATO Christmas lunch on Thursday 7th December at Doltone House, Jones Bay Wharf Sydney.

    The European Travel Commission (ETC) and the members of ETC’s Australia Chapter: Atout France, Austrian National Tourist Office, Tourism Ireland, the Italian National Tourist Board, Visit Monaco, Switzerland Tourism, Spain Tourism Board and Visit Portugal, are partnering with CATO to create impact and inspire the industry for 2024 and beyond.

    “It brings us immense pleasure to join hands with ETC once again for this important event in the CATO Calendar. Elevating destination education for our tour operator and wholesaler members, in addition to the wider industry at this event, is an important element of the services provided by this sector of our membership.” said Brett Jardine

    Sofia Hansson, Chair of ETC’s Australia Chapter said, “we are delighted to partner with CATO for the 2023 Industry Christmas Lunch. This event provides an excellent platform to showcase the wonders of Europe, including our stunning landscapes, rich heritage and culture, and the continued focus on sustainability and sustainable travel, which is a key part of ETC’s Horizon 2022 marketing strategy. The NTO members look forward to connecting with the industry and highlighting some of the exciting experiences Australian travellers can enjoy when they visit Europe.”

    In a similar vein, Emanuele Attanasio, Vice-Chair of ETC’s Australia Chapter said, “we are thrilled to re-connect with the tourism industry and are looking forward to partnering with CATO for this exciting event. Europe is well and truly back on the radar with confidence and airlift now resembling pre-pandemic travel conditions. The CATO Christmas lunch is a great opportunity for the National tourist boards to showcase their European destinations.”

    The CATO and ETC partnership, reflected in this event, epitomizes the mutual commitment to enhancing destination awareness through education. This year’s Christmas lunch event has already seen an unprecedented response, with over 300 tickets booked.

  • Mon, September 04, 2023 4:12 PM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) recently engaged in high-level meetings in Canberra with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade). These deliberations serve as a strategic step in CATO's commitment and ongoing mission to ensure that the needs of Australian tour operators and wholesalers are placed at the forefront of national travel and tourism strategies.

    During their dialogue with Austrade, CATO's leadership, including Managing Director Brett Jardine and Chair Dennis Bunnik, charted the course for the continued and effective implementation of the Reviving International Tourism Grant Program (RITG), to ensure the seamless distribution of funding under Stream 1, part 2 of the program. 

    This program stands as a testament to the government's commitment and has played a pivotal role in providing support to tour operators and wholesalers in these challenging times. CATO expressed heartfelt gratitude to Austrade on behalf of the industry for the government's invaluable backing through the RITG program.

    Jardine emphasised, “The RITG has been instrumental in empowering tour operators and wholesalers to re-establish crucial international links with supply chains."

    Recognising CATO's insights, Austrade highlighted the indispensability of industry-wide collaboration, asserting the value of diverse perspectives in moulding robust international leisure travel policies.

    CATO's strategic dialogue with DFAT, through a meeting with the new First Assistant Secretary, Ciara Spencer and her team, revolved around global insights, booking trends, and industry evolution. As CATO and DFAT celebrate two decades of collaboration through the Consular Consultative Group (CCG), the recent talks underscored CATO’s pivotal role as the sector's voice.

    These sessions reinforce CATO's dedication to fostering alliances that not only amplify the voice of Australian tour operators and wholesaler stakeholders but also ensure their pivotal contributions are recognised. With an unwavering commitment, CATO continues to navigate the dynamic international tourism domain, its efforts bolstered by strategic partnerships with entities such as Austrade and DFAT.







  • Fri, September 01, 2023 4:42 PM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators is calling for an urgent review of the Government’s decision to block Qatar Airways request for additional flights into Australia.  CATO is also seeking greater transparency into these decisions going forward.

    The lack of transparency around the reasons for the rejection of Qatar Airways’ request has led to unnecessary speculation and stresses which hinder effective planning and could ultimately lead to hesitation from other airlines looking to launch flights to Australia. 

    CATO members operating both domestically and internationally are seeing their recovery hampered by high fares and limited flights which are deterring passengers from booking travel to and from Australia.  

    Additional air capacity into Australia will provide immediate relief from high fares, boost the economy and create more jobs.

    “Affordable airfares are vital for the recovery of the entire travel and tourism industry and the broader Australian visitor economy. We therefore request that the government urgently review this decision and we seek greater clarity on how these decisions are made. “ said Brett Jardine, Managing Director CATO. 

  • Tue, August 29, 2023 9:16 AM | Deleted user

    In line with the ACCC announcement of changes to the laws on unfair contract terms which will come into effect on 9th November 2023, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) have today announced to members, that CATO lawyer and Board Member Aaron Zoanetti will be undertaking a comprehensive review of CATO’s Industry Standard Booking Terms and Conditions.

    Travel law specialist, Zoanetti said “Significant penalties may apply to businesses that include unfair contract terms in their standard form contracts. For tour operators and travel wholesalers active in the Australian market this relates to their booking terms and conditions”.

    CATO members that already use CATO’s Industry Standard Booking Terms and Conditions will be provided with suggested amendments to make particular provisions commonly applied within the industry less likely to be considered unfair. Any further tailoring requirements can be provided by Aaron Zoanetti.

    “It is critical that member businesses implement a mitigation strategy to reduce the risk of enforcement action being taken. Members that have not reviewed their booking terms and conditions or who may be new to CATO should note that they have access to CATO Industry Standard Booking Terms and Conditions specifically designed for tour operators and wholesalers at exclusive member rates that includes a free 30-min consultation with Aaron”. said Brett Jardine, Managing Director, CATO.

  • Tue, August 08, 2023 8:50 AM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) concluded its second successful annual Travel Trivia Masters event last Thursday at the Doltone House Darling Island in Sydney.

    Over 250 industry members, across all sectors of the travel industry, showcased incredible creativity, through their travel-inspired outfits donned for an unforgettable evening of celebration, knowledge, camaraderie and dancing, led by the charismatic emcee duo, Julia Zaetta and Jad Nehmetallah.

    Travel knowledge was put to the test through three rounds of engaging travel-related trivia questions. Prizes were awarded throughout the night, including MasterCard CashPassport gift cards, with the highlight prize of the evening being a holiday to the Philippines, courtesy of Tourism Philippines & Philippine Airlines, The Baron Travel Corporation and COAST Boracay Island.

    Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO, said, "The team collaboration and friendly competitive spirit across all industry sectors was truly showcased during the event. It was also wonderful to see so much effort and creativity that went into the various travel-inspired themed costumes displayed."

    “We are grateful to the many sponsors who supported this important annual event on the CATO calendar, including Intrepid Travel (Platinum and Host Sponsors), Lockton Insurance (Gold Sponsor), Tourism New Zealand (Silver Sponsors), Travel Pay (Video Booth Sponsor), Atout France (Program) and the many Supporting Sponsors.

    Team Windstar Cruise, 'Windstar Sailors' were crowned this years Travel Trivia Masters winners.

  • Wed, June 21, 2023 6:34 AM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) proudly announces a significant milestone as it achieves record membership levels, reflecting a remarkable 30% growth compared to the same period last year. This achievement solidifies CATO's position as the preeminent industry association, tirelessly advocating for the interests of Australian-based outbound tour operators and wholesalers.

    CATO's unwavering commitment to its members has fostered continuous engagement with the government, resulting in the development of tailor-made policies and initiatives that directly address the specific needs of tour operators and wholesalers. By actively championing the industry's interests, CATO ensures that its members are recognised as a critical link in the development and distribution of outbound leisure travel products, benefiting all stakeholders in the industry.

    "The resounding success of CATO's new Accreditation program, coupled with our highly engaging annual events and ongoing advocacy efforts, showcases our unwavering commitment to nurturing strong member relationships," remarked Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director.

    “CATO has positively and professionally evolved so well over the last few years. It is now become an invaluable resource for my travel business through their insights and industry expertise that relates directly to our operations. Their leadership through Covid was exemplary. Their focus on delivering insightful, industry leading educational events throughout each year are of the highest standard providing numerous opportunities to collaborate with like-minded, professional business owners” advised CATO member, Albatross Tours MD, Euan Landsborough.

    As CATO celebrates this milestone, it reinforces its dedication to championing the interests of Australian-based outbound tour operators and wholesalers. The association remains committed to driving the growth, sustainability, and recognition of CATO members as an invaluable contributor to the Australian travel landscape.

  • Fri, June 16, 2023 8:54 AM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is is excited to announce its newest addition to the Platinum Partner roster, 4walls Cyber Advisory. This strategic partnership will bolster CATO's commitment to fortifying the cyber security needs of tour operators and wholesale members, ensuring their resilience against emerging cyber threats.


    Expressing his enthusiasm for the collaboration, Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO, remarked, "We are delighted to welcome 4walls Cyber Advisory as a platinum partner of CATO. Their expertise in cyber security and dedication to safeguarding businesses within the travel industry make them an invaluable asset to our members and the wider Australian travel community."

    Renowned for their tailored solutions in cybersecurity, 4walls Cyber Advisory recently presented at CATO's Crisis, Risk & Resilience conference. Under the leadership of Nik Devidas, the firm's team of experts is wholly committed to promoting awareness and implementing robust cybersecurity measures that effectively mitigate risks.

    Nik Devidas, Founder and CEO of 4walls Cyber Advisory, expressed his honour at the partnership, stating, "We are privileged to collaborate with CATO as a platinum partner. Our mission perfectly aligns with CATO's dedication to supporting Australian tour operators and wholesalers. We are eager to leverage our expertise in bolstering CATO members' cyber security infrastructure, safeguarding sensitive data, and fostering trust among their clients."


    The strategic collaboration between CATO and 4walls Cyber Advisory aims to provide CATO members with specialised cybersecurity guidance, resources, and tools tailored to address the unique challenges faced by the travel industry. By establishing a robust defence against cyber threats, tour operators and wholesalers can continue delivering exceptional travel experiences while ensuring the protection of their customers' sensitive information.

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