Log in

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, 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.

  • 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

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software