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(March 17, 2020) The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today issued a rallying cry to the travel industry and holidaymakers to work together in these unprecedented times to ensure the best possible outcome for the future.
The Association commended the efforts of the entire industry for its proactive customer focused approach to dealing with this crisis.
“It is obvious that front-line staff, across all sectors of the industry are doing it very tough as they work around the clock to help clients navigate through this.”
Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director.
“We’ve all faced various crises before but nothing of this scale and magnitude. With borders closing, foreign governments imposing restrictions on movement and the Australian Government now imposing self-isolation of travellers returning from an overseas trip, CATOs view is that an event of ’Force Majeure’ has occurred,” said Jardine.
’Force Majeure’ is an unexpected and extraordinary circumstance outside of the control of the parties which prevents the fulfillment of contract terms and conditions.
In typical force majeure circumstances, tour operators, wholesalers and their suppliers would usually be excused from performing their obligations. However, right now in CATO’s view, the best possible outcome for everyone concerned is for customers to be issued with credits for future travel.
By issuing travel credits, where possible, as opposed to refunds, not only does the traveller have a positive experience in this difficult time with an assurance that their holiday of a lifetime can still be enjoyed at a later date, but the agent with whom they booked also retains their commissions which ultimately guarantees an even stronger industry in the future.
As an industry we have quickly entered uncharted waters and now is the time for us all to work together for the long-term prosperity of our industry.
The travel industry is a vital part of the economy, providing much needed jobs in cities and country towns throughout Australia. Working together to find the best solutions for both travellers and travel planners, we will ensure that the travel industry survives this crisis and when the time is right will be there to help Australians re-book their well-deserved holidays.
The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has announced that the Platinum Sponsorship rights to the 2020 CATO Awards has been awarded to Globus family of brands.
Image: Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director (3rd from left) with the Globus family of brands team. Left to right: Chris Fundell, Head of Marketing Australasia; Gai Tyrrell, Managing Director Australasia; and Peter Douglas, Head of Sales.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have secured the Globus family of brands’ Platinum Sponsorship commitment for the 2020 CATO Awards. Their contributions to CATO’s support of Australia’s land-supply sector over the years has been immense—we’re delighted to have them on board", said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.
Image: CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.
Confirming the CATO Awards Platinum Sponsorship, Gai Tyrrell, Managing Director Australasia said, “The Globus family of brands is a longstanding supporter of the Australian travel industry, so we’re delighted to come on board as CATO’s first dedicated Platinum sponsor for its inaugural awards.”
“It’s essential the industry continues to celebrate excellence and encourage growth within the field, and I have no doubt CATO’s travel awards will be a coveted event in the travel industry calendar for decades to come”, Tyrrell added.
Image: Brett Jardine presenting the 2019 CATO Awards stream at AFTA's National Travel Industry Awards in Sydney.
The inaugural CATO Awards were held as a stream within the National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) gala in 2019. But it’s a different story in 2020—the CATOs will, for the first time, be run as a stand-alone event, one that recognises the outstanding achievements of retail travel agents as well as trade and mainstream media.
CATO Awards Need-to-Knows
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A statement from The Council of Australian Tour OperatorsChairman, Dennis Bunnik and Managing Director, Brett Jardine.
DOWNLOAD CATO's statement as a PDF HERE.
A simple scroll through social media and various news outlets at the moment and it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the world is doomed! We’re all about to be eaten up by the Coronavirus and should stop everything immediately.
It’s not too far-fetched to say that this is causing a Worldwide Panic. What started off primarily in the East is now rapidly spreading West with Europe and North America currently in the grips of the panic and its associated irrational behaviour.
We don’t profess to be medical experts and never will be. However, one piece of advice we should all be following is not to take medical or travel advice from social media or mainstream news headlines.
Whilst this situation is changing daily, to ensure minimal impact on the year ahead, consumer confidence is critical and every participant in the travel industry has a role to play.
We all need to be making decisions and directing customers to the best credible information available.
World Health OrganisationFor the latest information and guidance from the WHO regarding coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019.
Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT)
The Smart Traveller website (www.smartraveller.gov.au) provides the latest travel safety information for Australian travellers heading overseas.
Each year in Australia alone more than 3,000 women die from breast cancer, more than 3,000 men die from prostate cancer and more than 3,000 Australians commit suicide.
If we compare this to the SINGLE death from coronavirus as at today – we really do need to put our attention on more important issues.
Why there are so many sensational headlines at the momentDramatic headlines create clicks and sell papers.
So, when a Government Minister talks about reviewing the National Emergency Action Plan and details the different threat level responses the media naturally leads with what the ‘worst case’ scenario looks like as this will create more interest for the story. It is not until you read the body of the story that you realise the headline has been over dramatized. The problem is most people only read the headlines.
Governments and professional businesses need to have emergency plans in place and at times like this it makes sense to review them and make sure all is in order. The World Health Organisation, similarly, has protocols in place and has been calling for all governments to prepare. The news media is simply amplifying this message. It does not mean however that the worse-case scenario is any more likely than the best-case scenario.
Adding further fuel to the fire of dramatic headlines are the politicians who will take any opportunity to look strong in the media to help their opinion polls – for example by shutting borders or prematurely declaring a pandemic when one does not exist. This impact then snowballs and creates further unnecessary angst in the community.
Social Media Loves Drama – and a Conspiracy Theory!Social media and instant access to information via smart phones is overall fantastic. However, spend enough time online and you’ll be convinced the earth is flat and man didn’t land on the moon. As mentioned before, it is best not to take medical advice from strangers on social media.
Sadly, the result of all this panic is that holidays and even public events are being cancelled for no valid reason.
The head of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said this week, ‘Our greatest enemy right now is not the virus itself, it’s fear, rumours and stigma.” He stressed that fear and misinformation were the biggest challenges to overcome.
Fear, misinformation and panic is leading to irrational decisions which in turn is placing entire industries and economies under threat. Thousands of jobs have already been lost and it is not inconceivable that several airlines and companies relying on travel, tourism and events will stop trading as a result.
“The biggest impact of COVID-19 will be economic rather than medical.”So before making any decisions it is important that you are armed with up to date information from reliable sources.
On Friday 28th Feb, CATO met with senior officials from the DFAT Smart Traveller Division which included a senior manager from the DFAT COVID-19 Task Force.
A very realistic approach to COVID-19 is that taken by DFAT who operate on a very strict No Double Standards policy. Under Australian law DFAT is unable to withhold information from the public which they have available to their own staff. This ensures all travel safety and security information is shared with the Australian public. DFAT is obviously monitoring COVID-19 very closely and amending travel warnings as a result.
Despite the ‘world-wide panic’ DFAT as at 1 March 2020 has only changed the travel warnings for 5 countries. They are:
China & Iran: Changed to Level 4: Do Not TravelFor China this is due to it being the epicentre of the outbreak and with the evacuation of non-essential staff Australia only has limited consular capability for assisting Australian travellers.
For Iran the warning was already at the second highest level (#3 Reconsider Your Need to Travel). The increase is due to the rapid spread of the virus, the perceived weakness of the Iranian health system, reducing commercial flight options for leaving the country and the limited Australian consular capability in Iran.
Japan & South Korea
Both have had their warning levels increased from the lowest Level 1 (Exercise Normal Safety Precautions) to the second lowest Level 2 (Exercise a High Degree of Caution).
The Australian Government does NOT recommend cancelling travel to either Japan or South Korea. It is advising travellers to be more vigilant regarding their personal hygiene and stay aware of any local restrictions. Both countries have strong robust health systems and the Australian Government has high levels of Consular Capability in place.
The travel warning has been increased from the lowest Level 1 (Exercise Normal Safety Precautions) to the second lowest Level 2 (Exercise a High Degree of Caution).
The reason for this change is that whilst Mongolia has not had any reported cases the health reporting system there is perceived as potentially weak and Australia has limited Consular Capability in Mongolia.
The overall travel warning for Italy has not changed. It remains at the Level 1. Parts of Northern Italy (not including Tuscany and Florence) has increased to Level 2 (Exercise a High Degree of Caution). Again, the Australian Government is not recommending that people avoid travelling to Italy.
It is worth adding that each year more than ONE MILLION Australians enjoy travel to Indonesia each year and the DFAT advice level here is also at level 2 (Exercise a High Degree of Caution).
Changes to government travel warnings are based on fact and information from multiple credible sources. The fact that so few warnings have changed should give travellers comfort as to the seriousness of this virus.
United Nations World Health Organisation www.who.intThe World Health Organisation is the world’s peak health organisation providing advice and assistance to governments to help improve health services and manage health emergencies.
WHO has been involved with COVID-19 since its initial outbreak and continues to be the leading source of up to date information.
At a press conference in Geneva on 28 February 2020 Dr Tedros said that most cases of the virus could still be traced and there was no evidence of the virus spreading freely in communities.
The head of the WHO’s Emergency Health Program, Dr Mike Ryan, stressed that current data information does not suggest that the virus has become a global pandemic.
Dr Tedros reiterated that the spread had the potential to become a pandemic but cautioned against unnecessary panic.
THE NEXT STEPS – To Travel or Not To Travel?
If you are travelling in the next 2-3 months
If you are travelling from 1 June 2020 onwards
Fear of Quarantine After TravelThere is some fear among travellers that they may be sent to special quarantine facilities in Darwin or Christmas Island if there is an outbreak at their holiday destination. Whilst this fear is understandable it is important to bear in mind that the only Australians sent to special quarantine facilities were those evacuated out of Wuhan City and from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
The normal practice for Australians returning from countries with high rates of infection is to self-isolate at home for 14 days and seek immediate medical attention if symptoms of illness develop.
A Final NoteTravel restrictions from China and other parts of Asia are having a significant impact on visitor numbers to many destinations. Similarly, there are many irrational cancellations from the western world. As a result, this could actually be the best year to see some of the world’s most popular destinations without the mass crowds.
CATO is delighted to advise that the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has released its updated Advertising Code of Conduct for ATAS Participants.
The new code addresses the use of 'artificial' pricing that we have seen in the marketplace for a few years now.
In 2019, CATO took a stand against unethical and misleading 'travel deals' advertising, with the organisation's Chairman, Dennis Bunnik, being particularly vocal on the issue. Many will recall Bunnik pressing for change at CATO's June 2019 AGM where he was quoted as saying, "the use of 'typically' or 'valued at' pricing is often so unrealistic it is laughable"—something that was widely reported in travel industry media at the time.
Through the latter part of 2019, CATO continued to advocate for change to the code, working closely with AFTA and writing to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to raise our concerns with the practice.
As ATAS accreditation is mandated for Full Members of CATO, the new guidelines affect those tourism operators.
Details on the new code can be found HERE.
And you can DOWNLOAD the guidelines HERE.
For more details or queries, please contact Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has made its venue announcement for the 2020 CATO Awards, and released tantalising details of the event format.
Image: The Hyatt Regency Hotel, Sydney.
“The CATO Awards will not be just another awards night", said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.
"We have an exciting venue and a unique format to deliver maximum engagement as we recognise excellence in the retail travel sector," he added.
Image: CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.
In a fresh take on the awards night structure, the seated formalities will be completed in under 90 minutes, leaving plenty of time for pre-drinks, networking, grazing from live cooking stations, hitting the dance-floor and sampling delicious roaming canapés and desserts from around the world.
“We want everyone who attends the CATO Awards to spend more time interacting and celebrating than seated and watching an awards ceremony,” noted Jardine.
Image: Food stations at Hyatt Regency Hotel, Sydney. Credit: Scott Ehler.
The primary purpose of the CATO Awards is for the land-supply sector to recognise the outstanding achievements of retail travel agents as well as trade and mainstream media. But, as Brett Jardine points out, there’s plenty in it for CATO members, too, despite not being up for awards themselves.
“The interactive nature of the awards night, and the promotional lead-up to it, offer brilliant opportunities for tour operators, wholesalers and suppliers to engage deeply with their retail partners and showcase their unique offerings,” said Jardine.
Image: Brett Jardine presenting the 2019 CATO Awards.
The CATO Awards categories focus on areas of specialisation offered by CATO Members.
Winners will be crowned in the following categories:
Full details of the CATO Awards nomination process will be announced in the coming months.
Tickets are limited. Grab yours HERE!
"Bring your dance shoes and join the CATO community as we acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of CATO's retail and media partners," said Jardine.
The latest issue of CATO's dedicated digital travel trade magazine is available to download right now.
Shining a light on Australia’s land-supply travel sector, Ground Control is a publication we're really proud of.
If you haven't already downloaded Issue 4, simply CLICK HERE and follow the prompts.
In this issue you'll find fascinating features about:
We also showcase some fabulous global tours and experiences, and chat to brilliant industry insiders like Hands On Journeys' Simla Sooboodoo.
Please be sure to share Ground Control with your colleagues, friends and families, or point them at the SUBSCRIBE link so they can receive their very own copy of each edition!
Happy reading from everyone at the Council of Australian Tour Operators, and here's to a brilliant 2020.
2019 was a break-out year for the Council of Australian Tour Operators.
Huge, in fact.
Year-round behind the scenes, CATO's advocacy for the land supply sector and travel trade more broadly is ongoing. There was plenty of it this year, in particular tackling unethical and deceptive advertising.
Significantly, CATO made a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regarding the use of ‘typically’ or ‘valued at’ pricing which, it says, is clearly designed to mislead the consumer into thinking they are getting a better deal than they actually are.
"We’re not going to be letting this one go," said CATO Chairman, Dennis Bunnik.
Image: Dennis Bunnik (left) with guests at the CATO Christmas lunch in Sydney.
So, what else did CATO get up to in 2019?
Here are a few highlights.
In February we delivered our 2nd Crisis Management conference.
At the event sponsored by Risk Logic, attendees heard from crisis management experts on a range of topics including communications, public relations, legal, insurance, leadership and planning.
Image: Highlights from CATO's Crisis Management conference.
In March, CATO launched Ground Control—a quarterly digital magazine dedicated to the travel trade filled with news, views and updates from the Australian travel industry's land-supply sector.
Image: The inaugural issue of CATO's Ground Control magazine.
The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) hosted tour operators, travel wholesalers and retail networks at a ground breaking event in Sydney focused on the youth sector.
CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine, opened the event with an in-depth assessment of data focused on Australia’s 18-35’s.
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.
CATO held an Extraordinary General Meeting to accept a revamped constitution following a full review of the current version implemented in June 2014 at the time of deregulation of the Australian Travel Industry.
The primary outcome from the revamped constitution was to acknowledge the growing engagement from Associate Members by allowing participation as Board Members, something historically reserved for full tour operator/wholesale members only.
The meeting took place in Sydney in conjunction with CATO’s AGM, and included elections to confirm the make-up of the next term of CATO Board members.
Image: The elected CATO Board.
Those elections confirmed Martin Edwards, Bench Africa as Vice Chairman, and Board members Brett Mitchell, Intrepid Travel Group; Julie King, Julie King & Associates; Amanda McCann, Collette; Matt Cameron-Smith, AAT Kings; David Walker, Sno'n'Ski; Halina Kubica, Greece & Mediterranean Travel; Justine Waddington, Encounter Travel and Liz Anderson, Sundowners Overland.
In June we also appointed our first official communications agency, Resource, to drive CATO's messaging to increase trade and consumer awareness of the land-supply sector.
We presented the inaugural CATO Awards in a dedicated stream of accolades at the National Travel Industry Awards thanks to the generosity and support of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA).
The CATOs were such a success, we're thrilled to advise that they will be run as a stand-alone event in 2020.
Image: CATO's Brett Jardine (right) with the inaugural CATO Award winners.
Issue 2 of Ground Control magazine is published.
Issue 3 of Ground Control magazine is published.
In October, CATO delivered its 'International Leisure Travel Trends' report—a new benchmark view of Australia’s outbound leisure travel market.
Based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and CATO's own extensive consumer survey of international travellers the report is focused on international leisure travel from Australia.
The 'International Leisure Travel Trends' report was pushed to consumer and trade media, positioning CATO as a credible source of insights into our sector.
Building on the success of its quarterly trade publication, Ground Control, CATO launched 'Your Travel Magazine'—its own dedicated consumer publication.
CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine, said, "Your Travel Magazine is a very exciting addition to our ongoing awareness and engagement strategy to promote key messages for the land supply sector. This is a joint venture with the publisher of Ground Control magazine and CATO Associate Member, Travel Brochures."
Your Travel Magazine will be delivered to more than 115,000 qualified leads that are planning to travel in the next 12-18 months.
In December, the 4th edition of Ground Control was published.
The 20th CATO annual Christmas lunch is held in Sydney.
"To have 130 members of the CATO community, along with members of the travel industry media, guests from Australia's major retail consortia and sponsors in the same room was a very satisfying way to reflect on a break-out year for CATO," said Brett Jardine.
Image: Brett Jardine welcome guests to CATO's Christmas lunch in Sydney.
The event's guest speaker was Julia Zaetta—Editor in Chief at Better Homes and Gardens, and one of the most successful and the longest-serving editors in Australian publishing history.
The Council of Australian Tour Operators hosted its 20th annual Christmas lunch for Members, Associate Members and invited guests at L'Aqua Terrace Room at Cockle Bay in Sydney's Darling Harbour.
"Once again, our Christmas gathering was a brilliant event," said CATO's Managing Director, Brett Jardine.
"To have 130 members of the CATO community, along with members of the travel industry media, guests from Australia's major retail consortia and sponsors in the same room was a very satisfying way to reflect on a break-out year for CATO," he added.
Jardine's opening address welcomed everyone, and described the organisation's impressive list of achievements for the year including:
Image: CATO Chairman, Dennis Bunnik, with invited guests.
This was followed by a speech from CATO Chairman, Dennis Bunnik, who acknowledged Jardine's efforts.
"I speak to Brett on the phone at least 2-3 times per week and the amount of energy and enthusiasm he has for this organisation is incredible," said Bunnik.
Bunnik went on to describe CATO's important behind-the-scenes industry advocacy work.
"In the past 6 months this has been focused on assisting members through the collapse of Tempo Holidays, and more recently challenges experienced by One Ocean Expeditions. In the case of Tempo we’ve been part of the debate and discussion around consumer protection. For One Ocean the focus has been on finding out exactly what is going on and then helping impacted members navigate the legalities," he said.
Bunnik also recognised the support of AFTA - the Australian Federation of Travel Agents.
"AFTA have always been a great supporter of CATO and we certainly value the relationship. From a CATO perspective we continue to work with AFTA for the greater good of the travel industry," he added.
"CATO also continues to tackle unethical and misleading advertising which has been a significant issue for the industry over the past year. CATO has made a submission to the ACCC regarding the use of ‘typically’ or ‘valued at’ pricing which is clearly designed to mislead the consumer into thinking they are getting a better deal than they actually are. We’re not going to be letting this one go," he asserted.
Karl Schubert, Public Relations Manager, South West Pacific for the event's major sponsor, Singapore Airlines, gave an entertaining review of the airline's year in the context of bottles of fine French bubbly consumed in its premium cabins, and this rhythmic introduction to the airline's new A350 aircraft.
Image: Guest speaker, Julia Zaetta, takes the stage and steals the show.
Over the course of lunch, the event's guest speaker, Julia Zaetta—Editor in Chief at Better Homes and Gardens, and one of the most successful and the longest-serving editors in Australian publishing history—brought the house down with insights and anecdotes from her decades in senior editorial positions in the magazine publishing houses of Messrs Packer, Murdoch and Stokes.
“To hear such an accomplished woman, a major force in Australian publishing, speak of her successes and failures in the high-stakes world of magazines and media was a real privilege, and not something anyone at our Christmas lunch will forget in a hurry,” said Brett Jardine.
Building on the tremendous success of its custom travel trade publication, Ground Control, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has released the first edition of its new consumer-facing digital publication, Your Travel Magazine.
This is a unique communications platform as it is the only publication dedicated exclusively to the land-supply sector, connecting it directly with more than 115,000 active Australian travellers.
Created expressly to ensure land touring options remain at the forefront of consideration and decision-making among regular international travellers, Your Travel Magazine showcases CATO Members, their products, news and promotions.
"We're delighted to add this unique publication to our communications mix, and to diversify our communications strategy for CATO members," said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.
"The launch edition is filled with a wide range of touring styles and destinations offering readers a huge choice. Importantly, the digital format which seamlessly adapts to whatever device readers are using, also means calls-to-action redirect conveniently to the relevant operator’s desired landing pages,” added Jardine.
The launch edition of Your Travel Magazine has feature stories about …
Your Travel Magazine is a partnership with the highly respected publisher of Ground Control magazine, Well Travelled and CATO Associate Member Travel Brochures (Leads Corp Pty Ltd).
A quarterly digital publication, Your Travel Magazine is delivered directly to the inboxes of more than 115,000 Australians who have opted-in to receive travel planning information.
Readers can subscribe to receive the magazine free RIGHT HERE!
For more info, contact Brett Jardine at email@example.com
The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has announced that the 2020 CATO Awards will be proudly delivered as a stand-alone event. The awards ceremony will take place at a lavish cocktail function in Sydney on the evening of Friday 23rd October.
Image: Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO presenting the CATO Awards stream at the 2019 National Travel Industry Awards.
The CATO Awards are an opportunity for Australia’s Land Supply sector to recognise the valued support it receives from travel agents and the retail travel trade.
The inaugural CATO Awards were presented within the Australian Federation of Travel Agents' (AFTA) National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) program in 2019.
CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine, said, “This is not just another awards event! This is an opportunity for our members from the land-supply sector to come together under the CATO banner to recognise excellence in the retail travel sector.”
Image: Brett Jardine (right) with the inaugural CATO Award recipients in 2019.
In 2020, CATO Awards will be presented in the following categories:
“Following the tremendous support and opportunity provided by AFTA in 2019, the CATO’s will be a showcase event on the 2020 travel industry calendar incorporating up to fourteen award categories that specifically recognise agencies and consultants that are stand-out performers across a number of specialty areas,” added Jardine.
Details confirming the venue and awards criteria will be announced to the trade in early 2020.