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

  • Fri, April 05, 2019 9:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) recently hosted tour operators, wholesalers and retail networks at a ground breaking event focused on the youth sector in Sydney.

    Hosted by Singapore Airlines, attendees included high profile leaders from across the industry who were keen to understand the current status and travel trends around the youth sector, with a view to establishing some common goals to drive awareness and future growth.

    CATO Managing Director Brett Jardine said “CATO were very pleased to be able to lead discussion on the status of the youth sector and thanked participants for their willing approach to work with CATO in promoting awareness and further opportunities.”

    Jardine opened the event with an in-depth assessment of data focused on Australia’s 18-35’s. Drawing on Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, Jardine confirmed that Australia’s youth sector are our most avid travellers when compared to all age demographics.

    Attendees were provided with startling figures that showed 1.75 million 18-35's went on an overseas holiday in 2018, spending an estimated 38.5 million days away from Australia and delivering a staggering market penetration of 35% within this age bracket.

    Jardine also revealed South-east Asia is by far the most popular region for Australia’s 18-35 holiday makers and Indonesia is the most popular country as a primary destination.

    Other presenters at the event included Sean Martin – General Manager of Student Flights and the Flight Centre Travel Groups Youth Touring; Katrina Barry - Managing Director at Contiki; Brett Mitchell, Regional Director at Intrepid; Daniel Thorne – Head of Sales for Top Deck APAC and Brendan Roberts – Global Head of Business Development at TourRadar.

    The Travel Corporation CEO John Veitch attended the event and said “it was great to come together as an industry to discuss how we further capture this sector of holidays, and ensure we continue to deliver the most amazing experiences for18-35-year-old travellers.”

  • Thu, March 28, 2019 7:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today announced the launch of a new quarterly multiplatform magazine, Ground Control, that puts the spotlight on the land supply sector.

    Ground Control is a B2B magazine designed to connect CATO members, their news, products and information to more than 5000 frontline retail travel agents.

    Read it here

    The mix of industry insights, profiles and feature stories relevant to the wider industry ensures the publication has broad reader interest.

    Powered by sophisticated technology, Ground Control is also truly responsive in a mobile environment instantly transforming virtual print content into a full-screen user-friendly format across all devices.

    That ability to responsively transition also means members and commercial partners can add rich media enhancements to their promotions for maximum impact.

    CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine said “we are already underway in planning for our second edition and we look forward to expanding the publication as we go.”

    The quarterly magazine will be supported by an annual print guide all designed to raise awareness, educate agents and ultimately drive sales for CATO members.

  • Thu, February 21, 2019 5:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today delivered a successful event focused on Crisis Management to nearly one hundred attendees.

    CATO Members and Guests heard from Leann Johnston, Director of Crisis Management & Contingency Planning at Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs followed by a range of experts on crisis management including communications, legal, insurance, leadership and planning.

    Major sponsor RiskLogic opened the event by putting to the audience that “for most organisations it is not ‘Business as Usual‘, so why are the leadership team expected to manage a crisis as part of their normal duties?” The session went on to address the question – what does Crisis Ready Look Like? 

    The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade is Australia’s front line when it comes to major international incidents including consular, humanitarian and security crises. In the second session for the day attendees were given an in-depth look into the role of DFAT from preparatory work through to support for Australians when travelling overseas.

    Session three was a panel of high profile communications experts that included Robyn Sefiani, Founder, Executive Chairman & Reputation Counsel, Sefiani; Jill Collins, Managing Director, Barking Owl Communications and Cara Mygind, Director Communications & Government Affairs, SPG. The panel confirmed how in the event of a crisis, an effective public relations plan is critical and how appropriate communications will go a long way to protect an organisations reputation and often their survival.

    Legal concerns arise prior to, during and following a crisis - be it from a customer liability perspective during travel or exposure to suppliers due to cancellations because of a crisis event. In the fourth session of the day Aaron Zoanetti from Pointon Partners provided a legal perspective around the sort of planning required to ensure that your business (a) meets its duties of care to its customers and (b) mitigates commercial risks which may flow from a crisis event through effective legal documentation.

    Prior to lunch guests were educated on the value of appropriate insurance coverage by Gow Gates Director Specialty, Fred Esteban. This session looked at how to avoid a financial crisis where an incident is out of your control and what happens following an incident where a policy is triggered.

    Author, speaker and leader, Major Garth Callender has lived and managed some of the most extreme crises across the globe following twenty years in the Australian army. He delivered an emotional presentation based on his first-hand experience on how the impact of a crisis can be minimised by well-prepared teams and effective leadership.

    A key ingredient in international travel is healthy airline partners that are exceptionally well prepared in the event of an incident. AFTA CEO, Jayson Westbury interviewed former Qantas executive Steve Limbrick where they confirmed an airline crisis is not limited to the brand involved. It was agreed our entire industry could be impacted and attendees were given a clear picture of the extraordinary depth of preparation that goes into ensuring stability within the airline sector and flow on effect to all industry participants.

    In the closing session, delegates were given a wrap of the day by Dr David Beirman and provided a template for attendees to confidently develop their own crisis management plan.

  • Sun, December 23, 2018 8:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today announced that it will convene a Crisis Management Conference in Sydney on Thursday, 21 February 2019.

    In this one-day event comprising keynote presentations and panel discussions, attendees will hear from a range of experts from across multiple areas of crisis management including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, communications advisers and experts from the Technology, Insurance, Legal and Business Continuity sectors.

    CATO Managing Director Brett Jardine said, “We are very pleased to be launching this initiative, which we believe is a crucial area of management for travel intermediaries. This forum will provide a valuable opportunity to hear from numerous experts in the field of crisis management, an aspect of risk management that is all too often overlooked until it is too late. The forum will also provide attendees some helpful tools and guidance to ensure they are well prepared when faced with an incident or crisis of any size.”

    Attendees likely to benefit most from attending this event include tour operators, wholesalers, retail agents and mobile consultants.

    Registration is now open and earlybird tickets are available online at

    - CATO Members $220 inc GST
    - Non-CATO Members $275 inc GST

    *Full program will be available mid-January

  • Fri, December 14, 2018 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today announced Yalago as their most recent associate member. Yalago is a global leisure bedbank that is part of the Emirates Group.

    Key to Yalago’s ongoing growth is their dedicated business to business (B2B) approach that is set to expand across the Australasia region.

    CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine confirmed Yalago’s willingness to expand into Australasia through tour operators was a sign of confidence in the quality of CATO’s membership whilst at the same time said “CATO Members would benefit from ongoing technology advancements when working with organisations that have the ability to deliver cutting edge systems.”

    Business Development Manager Australasia for Yalago, Virginie Michaud said “As a global leisure bedbank we contract over 12,000 hotels directly, offering volume-driven rates and availability in selected properties throughout the year, to Tour Operators across the world. These rates are negotiated by a dedicated team of over 70 contractors and made available to tour operators through direct connectivity to Yalago’s state-of –the-art online reservations system.”

    Michaud will be in Australia early 2019 to speak directly with CATO Members.

  • Wed, December 12, 2018 7:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Land-supply sector to deliver quarterly members magazine for trade distribution

    In a move to showcase its members and celebrate the continued growth, quality and diversity of land-based holidays, the sector’s peak industry body in Australia has announced a suite of new publications targeting travel agents.

    In 2019, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) will publish “Ground Control” as a quarterly digital magazine supported by an annual print guide that will keep awareness high for members and ensure the retail agents on the front end have all the latest information about travel products, trends, planning, personalities, forecasts, profiles and statistics.

    “We are very excited about this initiative that will be an invaluable resource for trade and a fantastic communication channel for our members, large and small,” said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    “Ground Control is one of a raft of strategic plays we are making in 2019 to really drive home the value propositions of our members’ travel products and services.”

    Australia’s travel content specialists, Well Travelled will produce the publications for CATO and also offer the articles and images as free downloads for media and trade to re-purpose for their own newsletters, promotions and other content requirements.

    “Every quarter, the digital format magazines will reach more than 5000 retail agents,” said Mr Jardine.

    “We really wanted a vehicle to capture and promote the incredible depth, high quality and extensive range of land-based options available through CATO members and Ground Control will do just that.”

    CATO’s tour operator and wholesale members are all ATAS Accredited providing credibility and peace of mind for Australian agents.

    The annual print publication will be a feature-packed guide that serves the dual purpose of being a permanent go-to resource for agents to reference the specialisations, distinctions and key selling points of each CATO member as well as preview what’s ahead - all designed to provide as much information as possible to agents to help drive conversions.

    “With so many information sources out there, we felt it was important that our members had a single voice that clearly articulated what we are about as a group,” added Mr Jardine. “As a collective, all focused on the same outcomes and strategic direction, we are much stronger than isolated voices championing the land touring sector.”

    The first edition of CATO’s Ground Control magazine will be published in February 2019 with a new edition every three months. The annual guide will be direct-mailed to trade in December 2019.

  • Tue, December 11, 2018 6:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Shark Tank contestant throws support behind burgeoning industry body

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today announced former Shark Tank contestant Lisa Pagotto has joined their membership ranks under her Crooked Compass business.

    Pagotto is well known for the wide appraisal and encouragement she received from industry colleagues when she took on the daunting task of being a contestant on popular TV series Shark Tank.

    Crooked Compass is a boutique tour operator exploring emerging destinations, with founder Lisa Pagotto saying “we aim to uncover the world’s best kept secrets through small group and customised tours that are culturally immersive and created to inspire, educate and encourage travellers to understand responsible tourism.” Pagotto added that she was a “strong supporter of a collaborative approach to growing the specialist travel sector and joining CATO is an ideal way to achieve this.”

    CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine said “we are delighted to have the Crooked Compass brand within CATO’s membership ranks. There is no doubt Lisa is a future leader of our industry and presents herself as a great role model to young women.”

  • Mon, December 03, 2018 11:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) in partnership with the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) today revealed an exciting new addition to the travel industry’s ‘night of nights’.

    The 2019 AFTA National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) will launch the inaugural CATO Awards. The Awards will be held as a dedicated segment within the AFTA NTIA Gala Dinner to recognise and reward front line travel consultants across four categories.

    The CATO Award categories will be promoted alongside the NTIA categories and be included in the NTIA promotional and judging processes. There will be no voting for any of the CATO categories – all winners will be determined via the same two-step submission and judging process used by AFTA to ethically and fairly determine winners.

    Globus, G-Adventures, Intrepid and The Travel Corporation will be the inaugural sponsors of The CATO Awards with the four high profile brands coming together in a group sponsorship, demonstrating the renewed collaborative focus of the land-supply sector.

    The four award categories are;

    • Consultant of the Year – Group Touring
    • Consultant of the Year – Adventure
    • Consultant of the Year – Ski
    • Consultant of the Year – Independent Travel

    “AFTA and CATO have been united in service to the travel industry for well over a decade. This union to enhance the NTIA program, call out travel professionals working with CATO members all within the high standard set by NTIA is yet another fantastic celebration of the Australian Travel Industry,” said Jayson Westbury, AFTA Chief Executive.

    “CATO’s involvement at NTIA delivers an opportunity for us to highlight the significant value of the land-supply sector to a very engaged trade audience. This is the travel industries night of nights and we look forward to being an integral part of the event,” said Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director.

    The 2019 AFTA National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) will be held on Saturday 20 July 2019 in the Grand Ballroom at the International Convention Centre, Sydney.

    2019 NTIA Key Dates;

    • Nominations Open - Monday 21 January 2019
    • Category Nomination Submissions due – Friday 15 March 2019 (Selected categories)
    • Nominees Announced - Monday 25 March 2019
    • Voting Opens - Tuesday 26 March 2019
    • Finalists Announced - Monday 20 May 2019
    • Ticket Sales – Tuesday 21 May 2019
    • Judging Period – Wednesday 12 June to Friday 21 June 2019 (Judged categories only)
    • Gala Dinner - Saturday 20 July 2019

  • Fri, August 10, 2018 4:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Victorian based members of the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) were hosted by the Fairfax Travel Commercial Team at an exclusive event this week in Melbourne.

    Held at Fairfax corporate headquarters “Media House”, CATO Members were treated to a presentation from Fairfax Headof Travel Philippa Walker and senior editorial staff on insights and opportunities that exist across numerous distribution channels.

    Walker said “Fairfax have been an integral part of the Australian community for 187 years and today create up to one hundred pages of travel material every weekend to support the sector.”

    Walker added “over the past year, it has been particularly satisfying to see a significant uplift in engagement in the travel space that includes both print and online product.”

    Speaking on behalf of tour operators and wholesalers, CATO Managing Director Brett Jardine said “it’s important for suppliers to identify opportunities that drive their message through mainstream media which in turn delivers significant value to their retail partners.”

    Left to right – Brett Jardine, Managing Director CATO; Philippa Walker, Head of Travel Fairfax Media; Mark Hawthorne, Publisher, The Age; Liz Anderson, Managing Director Sundowners Overland and CATO Executive Committee; Jane Reedy, Deputy Editor of Traveller.

  • Tue, July 24, 2018 3:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CATO joined forces with Star Alliance in Australia at this year’s AFTA National Travel Industry Awards to announce an extraordinary prize giveaway with members from both organisations joining forces to give guests  the opportunity to win unforgettable journeys to Europe, Asia and the Americas.

    NTIA’s legendary Star Alliance-branded napkin holders once again provided eight lucky guests with the key to unlocking an unprecedented prize pool created by bringing together nine of the world’s leading airlines and eight of CATO’s top tour operators.

    During the evening, eight numbers were randomly selected, with prizes including:

    • a flight for two to Phuket and a seven-night Thai islands cruise on Panorama II, courtesy of Thai Airways and Peregrine Adventures
    • an Air China trip for two to Beijing for a nine-day ‘Great Wall and Warriors’ excursion with On the Go Tours, taking in Xi'an, Shanghai and Suzhou
    • an Air Canada flight to Vancouver for a 19-day Cosmos adventure across Canada and Alaska that includes a voyage on-board the Rocky Mountaineer and a seven night cruise to Alaska
    • a flight to any EVA AIR destination across Asia and $1000 worth of luxury accommodation and tours when you get there courtesy of the Expedia Travel Agent Affiliate Program (TAAP)
    • fly South African Airways to South Africa for a 15-day Grand Tour from Bench Africa that includes 'Big Five' game viewing in Kruger National Park and a journey through Swaziland and Zululand on the way to beautiful Cape Town
    • a trip for two with Air New Zealand to Chicago (via Auckland) for an eight-day Globus tour of the Great Lakes, including a visit to Mackinac Island on Lake Huron where bicycles and horse-drawn carriages are the only means of transportation
    • a journey to Zurich flying with Singapore Airline and the Lufthansa Group for a seven-day Insight Vacations 'Magical Switzerland' tour taking in Lake Geneva, Zermatt and a voyage on the famous Glacier Express.
    • a trip for two to Mexico flying United Airlines and five dazzling nights at Club Med Cancún Yucatán, the ultimate all-inclusive family resort located at the tip of the iconic Riviera Maya

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