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

  • Fri, June 16, 2023 8:49 AM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO), have today announced tickets are now on sale to the broader travel industry for its two most anticipated events of the year: the CATO Travel Trivia Masters and the Annual CATO Christmas Lunch.

    This year's CATO Travel Trivia Masters promises to outshine the last, with a 'Travel Inspired' theme. The event is set to take place at the Doltone House, Darling Island Wharf in Sydney, on Thursday, 3rd August. Attendees can look forward to a two-course dinner, beverages, and exciting entertainment, along with the thrill of competitive trivia.

    To add more fun to this event are newly appointed Trivia Hosts and Emcee’s - well renowned Australian journalist, Julia Zaetta and TV celebrity, Jad Nehmetallah. Gold sponsor is also confirmed as Lockton Insurance.

    Single or group tickets, accommodating up to 10 per table, are available starting at $150 per person. Member tickets which opened 72 hours prior to the event launch have already sold 50% of the event capacity. For more details an event landing page can be found here and tickets can be booked here.

    In addition, the largest-ever festive gathering for our sector, the "CATO Christmas Lunch," is slated for Thursday, 7th December at the Doltone House, Jones Bay Wharf in Sydney. Adorned with a Christmas cocktail theme, guests are encouraged to add a dash of red or green to their attire. Upon arrival, a Santa Slipper cocktail and canapés will be served, followed by a two-course lunch and beverages, entertainment, prizes, and a memorable after-party.

    Silver sponsor for the event is confirmed as Lockton Insurance. Individual or group tickets, catering to up to 10 per table, start from $170 per person. For more details an event landing page can be found here and tickets can be booked here.

    "We look forward to welcoming the broader travel industry again to two of our flagship events this year,” said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine. Our team have been busy adding many new and exciting elements which will add an additional touch of magic to each event."

    Sponsorship opportunities are also available, with complete details provided in the sponsorship prospectus. Introductory sponsorship support has already confirmed from G Adventures and TravelPay for these events. For more information, contact us at

  • Fri, May 19, 2023 10:56 AM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO), in conjunction with the Australian Tourism Export (ATEC), have secured federal government funding exclusively for outbound Tour Operators, Travel Wholesalers and Inbound Tour Operators.

    Applications will open on Tuesday 23rd May for the Reviving International Tourism Grant (RITG) program, designed to assist bona-fide tourism exporters (inbound) and tour operators/wholesalers (outbound) to invest in the rebuilding and strengthening of international supply chains as leisure-based travel continues to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Investment in the development of leisure travel product within the inbound/outbound eco-system takes place well in advance of distribution, which further supports the wider travel and tourism industry at many levels. The Federal Government acknowledge CATO and ATEC members as key contributors to the future prosperity of the industry, which has led to the prioritization of the fulfillment of their $10 million pre-election commitment, to support travel and tourism for this purpose.

    “It is critical that our members are supported in reconnecting with international markets to ensure a vigorous return of international leisure travel to and from Australia, through specific business development and marketing activities”, said Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director.

    Administered by Austrade, the RITG program will be delivered in two streams over financial years 22/23 and 23/24, with eligible CATO and ATEC members able to apply for at least $10,000 in stream one, to support reconnection with international markets, and $2,000 in stream two to support incremental expansion of members’ digital uplift.

    To qualify for stream one funding CATO or ATEC members must have attended a major international travel and tourism trade show between 2017 and 2022*. Funds can be used towards participation in similar 2023, 2024 and 2025 events. The stream two digital uplift includes (but may not be limited to), activities and costs for website design, refresh, audit or optimisation to deliver greater visibility to international consumers.

    A further stream one grant amount for financial year 2023/24, will be determined based on demand of applicants for 2022/23. If funding remains available in 2023/24, the remaining funds will be equally distributed (capped at $10,000) to all approved applicants from stream one, as a second and final payment with all grant funds to be expended before 30 June 2024.

    Applications are open for a limited time through Austrade’s SmartyGrants portal with full details on the program to be available here

  • Wed, May 17, 2023 6:55 AM | Deleted user
    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO), proudly announced the results of its recent board elections today. Four distinguished industry leaders have been elected to the board to commence their two-year terms;
    • James O'Donnell, Finance Director, The Travel Corporation Australia (TTC) (re-elected)
    • Julie King, Founder & CEO, Julie King & Associates and Founder of Bonailie (re-elected)
    • Martin Edwards, Co-Founder & Chief Exploration Officer
    • Yvette Thompson - General Manager - Sales & Partnerships ANZ, Intrepid Travel Group

    These newly elected members join the robust CATO board alongside the re-elected Chair, Dennis Bunnik, and other seasoned board members:

    ·   Lisa Pagotto, Vice Chair CATO and Founder at Crooked Compass

    ·   Liz Anderson, Managing Director at Sundowners Overland

    ·   Brad McDonnell, Managing Director at Entire Travel Group

    ·   Aaron Zoanetti, Partner at Pointon Partners Lawyers

    ·   Sean Martin, Managing Director at G Adventures

    "We would like to take this opportunity to also acknowledge candidates that were not successful on this occasion; Chad Carey, Managing Director, Chimu Adventures and Ingrid Berthelsen, Joint CEO of Evolution Travel Collective. We are truly delighted to witness such a strong interest from our membership to participate in the CATO Board, a testament to the Board's outstanding credibility and accomplishments,"advised Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director.

    “CATO remains steadfast in its commitment to serving its members, confident that the fresh perspectives of the newly elected board members will further enhance the organisation's strategic initiatives” added Jardine

  • Thu, May 11, 2023 12:13 PM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO), in anticipation of its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, has disclosed the names of the esteemed candidates for the upcoming Board election.

    Dennis Bunnik, Joint CEO of Bunnik Tours, has been unanimously re-elected as the Chair of CATO for an additional two-year term, serving CATO with a decade of commendable leadership through to the 2025 AGM.

    In addition to Bunnik’s re-election, CATO proudly presents six exceptional nominees contending for four available board positions. This includes the following incumbent board members vying for re-election:

    • Julie King - Founder & CEO, Julie King & Associates and Founder of Bonailie
    • James O’Donnell - Finance Director, The Travel Corporation Australia (TTC)

    In addition, CATO is pleased to announce the participation of new candidates who have entered the fray for this year's election:

    • Chad Carey - Managing Director, Chimu Adventures
    • Martin Edwards - Co-Founder & Chief Exploration Officer, The Explorer Society
    • Yvette Thompson - General Manager - Sales & Partnerships ANZ, Intrepid Travel Group
    • Ingrid Berthelsen - Joint CEO, Evolution Travel Collective

    Brett Mitchell, Managing Director – Intrepid Travel ANZ, will not be re-standing following a six-year term on the Board.

    The final results will be announced at the AGM following the closure of member voting on Friday, prior to the event.

    "We are truly delighted to witness such a strong interest from our membership to participate in the CATO Board, a testament to the Board's outstanding credibility and accomplishments. On this occasion, I would like to acknowledge Dennis Bunnik for his ongoing commitment and also extend our gratitude to Brett Mitchell for his invaluable contribution during his six-year tenure on the CATO Board," advised Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director

  • Mon, April 24, 2023 4:49 PM | Deleted user

    The Industry Gathers for a Thought-Provoking Event on Sustainable Tourism Practices

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) successfully held its inaugural World Earth Day Lunch on Friday, April 21, 2023, with the theme for event being a touch of green. The largest gathering for a CATO event in Queensland, the event boasted over 80 attendees from all sectors of the travel industry and was held at Fortitude Valley's urban-style resort, The Calile Hotel, selected for its notable sustainability initiatives.

    Major sponsor for the event and MC, Sean Martin, Managing Director, APAC of G Adventures spoke about the company's mission to change people's lives through travel and its sustainability initiatives. G Adventures is working towards a net positive impact on the planet. In partnership with Brisbane-based Reforest, G Adventures also gifted all attendees the opportunity to plant a tree by scanning a QR code.

    Emanuele Attanasio from the Italian National Tourist Board, supporting sponsor of the event, highlighted the importance of sustainability in Italy and measures that can be taken to avoid over-tourism. In Italy, 48% of the population are interested in sustainable tourism, and several initiatives have been implemented towards sustainable infrastructure and responsible travel.

    A panel discussion, moderated by Sean Martin, featured Damian Perry (Hurtigruten – supporting sponsor of the event), Michelle Degenhardt (Flight Centre Travel Group), Heidi Hauf (Boeing), and Toni Ambler (The Travel Corporation). The panellists discussed challenges in promoting responsible travel, the need for education and standardising sustainable tourism measurements, and strategies for decarbonising the travel industry.

    Key takeaways from the event emphasized the importance of developing a genuine understanding of responsible travel practices, initiating sustainability-focused activities within businesses, and working collaboratively and transparently as an industry. Working with a global framework such as SDG’s, supporting the growth of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and raising awareness among the flying public, tourism operators, corporate leaders, and policymakers were also identified as crucial steps.

    As the peak industry body for the land-supply sector, it is important that we take a lead in highlighting the need for a sustainable and responsible approach to travel. Our industry is responsible for 3% of global carbon emissions and although we are not some of the highest emissions industries, we still make a significant contribution” said Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO.
    “We look forward to this becoming an annual event in the calendar to support the wider industry” added Jardine.

  • Tue, April 18, 2023 8:46 AM | Deleted user
    • The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) have today announced their full program of speakers for the forthcoming Crisis, Risk and Resilience Conference. This will be held in Sydney at Novotel Sydney Central on Monday 15th May 2023.

      A full program of speakers has been carefully curated, to bring diversity across various sectors of the industry, relevant to key scenarios of crisis and risk. These speakers include:

    • Chad Carey, Managing Director, Chimu Adventures who will share a moving review of crisis in action, and how travel businesses must be prepared for the unexpected.
    • Aaron Zoanetti, Partner & Travel Law Specialist, Pointon Partners and CATO Board Director, who will cover the critically important topic of Legal Essentials – Agent or Principal.
    • Brad Kelly, Director, Gow Gates Insurance, will look at the reality of travel risk, the value of assessing and understanding your vulnerability and risk aversion.
    • Greg Hay, General Manager Operations – Sydney Airport will share an inside view on Airport Operations and Disaster Preparation at our primary gateway to the world.
    • Nik Devidas, Managing Director, Rock IT will cover the important topic of Cyber Security whilst providing real examples of mistakes organisations make and how to avoid them.
    • Allisa O’Connell, Head of People & Culture, Flight Centre Travel Group will cover Crisis Leadership, and how the impact of a crisis can be minimised by well-prepared teams, and effective decision-making.
    • Roslyn Ranse, Founder of Travel Agent Achievers will moderate a panel of experts from across different sectors, who will share their view on changing landscapes, and what the future may hold for each of their specialties. These include:
    • Adventure: Lisa Pagotto - Founder, Crooked Compass
    • Student: Jamie Wansey - Managing Director, Student Horizons
    • Touring: Aleisha Fittler - Executive General Manager, Scenic
    • FIT: Brad McDonnell – Managing Director, Entire Travel Group
    • Youth: Sean Martin – Managing Director, G Adventures

    Appointed as Master of Ceremonies for the conference is Mark Carter - International Speaker, Trainer, Author and Coach. Mark has over 25 years’ experience as a global learning and development professional and his TEDx talk was the movie trailer for his latest book, ‘Add Value’, published globally by Wiley.

    The event will conclude with a Q&A with Mark Carter and CATO Chair Dennis Bunnik, prior to networking.

    “We are delighted to confirm Smartraveller and Ebury Partners as our key sponsors of the Crisis, Risk and Resilience Conference, and thank them for their support. I would also like to acknowledge all speakers who have committed to this important event for our industry, and looking forward to the learnings we will all share”. said Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director.

    Tickets to the CATO Crisis, Risk & Resilience Conference are selling quickly. Register here

  • Thu, April 06, 2023 1:34 PM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) today announced a stellar line-up of speakers for their forthcoming World Earth Day lunch which will be held at the Calile Hotel, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane on Friday 21st April 2023.
    “As the peak industry body for the land-supply sector, it is important that we take a lead in highlighting the need for a sustainable and responsible approach to travel.” Added Jardine.

    • Michelle Degenhardt - FCTG, Chief Sustainability Officer (Retail)
    • Heidi Hauf – Boeing, Regional Sustainability Lead (Aviation)
    • Damian Perry – Hurtigruten, Managing Director (Cruise)
    • Toni Ambler – The Travel Corporation, Managing Director - TTC Touring Brands (Tour Operators)
    CATO has also confirmed that Sean Martin, Managing Director of G Adventures will Emcee the event and moderate the panel. G Adventures is the major sponsor for the event and the Italian National Tourist Board and Hurtigruten are confirmed as supporting sponsors.  

    In formally announcing the speakers, CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine said “CATO has assembled a fantastic panel of experts from four different sectors of the travel industry. Guests will be inspired by these leaders, through a thought-provoking and impactful panel discussion, designed to educate and stimulate further conversations”.

    Our panellists include:

    Tickets to the event are selling out quickly at $135 per individual or $1,350 for a table of ten. This includes a two-course meal, beverages and post event networking. The event is open to all members of the travel industry, being held for the first time in Queensland.

    Register for event here

  • Thu, February 23, 2023 9:46 AM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) and the New Zealand Outbound Travel Suppliers Association (NZOTSA) have today met in Auckland to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two peak industry bodies to collaborate in a number of areas.

     “There are numerous synergies and potential benefits through the cooperation of services and sharing of relevant intellectual property across Australia and New Zealand which makes our MOU very exciting”, said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    “As our sector of the travel industry continues to rebound at a rapid pace, the MOU puts in place the groundwork to allow further expansion of the land supply sector across the Tasman Jardine added.

    NZOTSA Chairman, Joe O’Sullivan confirmed “the intent of this MOU is to explore, discuss and develop areas of mutual benefit for members across each organisation and the region in general”.

    Both parties noted that exploration of relevant activity will revolve around (but may not be limited to) advocacy efforts, member education, research, trade distribution, administrative capability, and networking opportunities.

    CATO and NZOTSA board members. L-R: Joe O’Sullivan, NZOTSA Chair; Marija Kapiteli, MD Croatia Times Travel; Brett Jardine, Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) MD; Robyn Galloway, MD Innovative Travel; Paul Dymond, MD Wendy Wu Tours and LISA Pagotto, MD Crooked Compass & CATO Vice Chair.

  • Thu, February 16, 2023 8:18 AM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) have today launched their Crisis, Risk and Resilience Conference which will be held in Sydney on Monday 15th May 2023.

    “The CATO Crisis, Risk & Resilience Conference will bring together participants from across the entire travel and tourism sector, with subject matter experts and industry leaders providing valuable insights through panel discussions and keynote presentations” said Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director

    “We have curated an insightful program which will include topics critical to travel businesses such as; legal matters, crisis communications, cyber security, insurance risk and crisis leadership as well as sector specific discussion, delivered by a number of prominent experts” added Jardine.

    Of particular note for travel agents, will be a keynote address to be delivered by CATO Board Member and Travel Law Specialist, Aaron Zoanetti. Well-known for his expertise and in-depth knowledge of travel law, Zoanetti will provide a detailed analysis around the opportunities and risks associated with dealing directly with DMC’s and offshore suppliers.

    All travel and tourism professionals are invited to register with tickets priced at $180 +GST for CATO members and $220 +GST for non-members. Tickets include a full day conference, morning tea, lunch and networking drinks, post event.

    CATO have released a prospectus for potential sponsors and the full event program will be available in the coming weeks at

    Tickets to the CATO Crisis, Risk & Resilience Conference are available here

  • Mon, December 12, 2022 7:57 AM | Deleted user

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) “Industry Christmas Lunch Event” held yesterday in the Ivy Ballroom and Pool Bar in Sydney, saw 300 members of the industry come together to celebrate in festive spirit with optimism for the year ahead


    Guests were warmly welcomed with networking drinks, courtesy of Welcome Sponsor – The Travel Corporation and entertainment provided by Crooked Compass & Tourism Promotion Authority Papua New Guinea.


    Richard Taylor successfully emceed the event where the industry heard from CATO Chairman, Dennis Bunnik and Managing Director, Brett Jardine, followed by exciting destination updates from Platinum Sponsor- Qatar Tourism, Richard Styles, Gold Sponsor - Korea Tourism Organization, Ryan Archibald, After Party Sponsor- New Caledonia Tourism, Rebecca Marchal and Tourism Promotion Authority Papua New Guinea, Douglas Keari and Lisa Pagotto from Crooked Compass.


    CATO MD, Brett Jardine held a thoughtful Q&A with Matt Leedham from Karryon on his contribution to the industry during the pandemic with his work on Together in Travel. The After Party then progressed to the Ivy Pool Club, where the industry mixed and mingled until late hours of Thursday evening.


    “Through the generosity and support of all our sponsors, the industry was entertained and rewarded with lots of exciting prizes. We are deeply appreciative of the contribution from our sponsors to make this event such a success and look forward to this becoming the sought-after annual event in our calendars”, said Brett Jardine, Managing Director, CATO.


    “I would also like to acknowledge the wonderful work of Lisa Maroun and her team who supported us in creating and executing with precision, our inaugural CATO Industry Christmas Lunch Event” added Jardine.

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