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

  • 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

  • Wed, June 20, 2018 6:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Bunnik Tours energetic CEO, Dennis Bunnik has been formally re-elected as CATO Chairman for a further term at the associations’ Annual General Meeting yesterday. 

    Bunnik has been instrumental in overseeing the transition of CATO from a fledgling networking group to a respectable voice for Tour Operators and Wholesalers. 

    Supporting the future direction of CATO under the relatively new leadership of Managing Director Brett Jardine, is an Executive Committee made up of a diverse group of suppliers including;

    Dennis Bunnik Bunnik Tours (Chairman)
    Martin Edwards Bench Africa (Vice-Chairman)
    Julie King Julie King & Associates
    David Walker ITC Pacific/Sno’n’Ski
    Anne-Marie Mitchell GET Educational Tours
    Matthew Cameron-Smith Trafalgar Tours
    Halina Kubica Greece & Mediterranean Travel
    Brett Mitchell (mid-term) Intrepid Travel Group
    Liz Anderson Sundowners Overland
    Justine Waddington Encounter Travel

  • Wed, June 20, 2018 5:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CATO founder and long-term General Manager, Peter Baily, received a fitting farewell at Sydney’s Establishment Hotel last night. Guests were treated to a number of humorous stories from Peter’s 50 years in the travel industry. 

    AFTA CEO Jayson Westbury praised Baily for his unwavering support of industry deregulation whilst former CATO Chairman, Michael Hay and Rod Eather acknowledged Baily’s unwavering belief in the land supply side of the industry during CATO’s formative years.

  • Wed, October 25, 2017 11:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dubai is a city that must be seen to be believed. Record-breaking architecture such as the world’s tallest building, stands alongside traditional quarters like Bastakiya, while man-made islands jut out of the coastline and the edge of the city is home to rolling sand dunes. Over 200 nationalities call Dubai home, bringing with it a mix of cultures and cuisines, creating an energy in the city like no other.

    Only 44 years old, this cosmopolitan city has grown exponentially, with new hotels and attractions launching each year to cater for the growing number of visitors to the destination. 2016 has been a great year for growth and development, with the launch of four theme parks and Dubai Opera, as well as a range of hotels, making it a city for everyone.

    For Australian travellers, visiting Dubai, here is our must-do’s:

    Burj Khalifa

    Soaring at over 828 metres tall with more than 160 stories, Burj Khalifa is not only the world’s tallest building, but an engineering masterpiece of modern architecture. The structure dominates the skyline and a visit to Dubai without seeing the building, would not be complete. Visitors can take in the views across the desert city from the observation deck on Floor 125, or for those wanting a VIP experience, the At The Top SKY lounge is on floor 148, offering guests an outdoor deck and complimentary refreshments.

    Dubai Opera

    The UAE’s cultural scene took another step forward in August 2016 when Dubai Opera opened its doors with a sold-out performance by Plácido Domingo. The iconic dhow-shaped building of Dubai Opera is a masterpiece of contemporary design, and a stylish tribute to Dubai’s maritime history. Designed by architect Janus Rostock, Dubai Opera gives the exceptional ability to transform into three modes; from a theatre into a concert hall, and into a ‘flat floor’ mode becoming a banquet or event hall and will be host to a wide variety of performances and events including theatre, opera, ballet, orchestras, concerts, fashion shows, live entertainment, conferences, galleries and art exhibitions.

    IMG World of Adventures and Dubai Parks and Resorts

    For families visiting Dubai, the launch of four new theme parks in 2016 gives more choice to families of all ages. IMG Worlds of Adventure opened in August and will be home to five adventure zones including Marvel comics and Cartoon Network. The World’s largest indoor theme park has rides, movies, shows and a range of dining options.

    In Q4, Dubai Parks and Resorts opens its doors to the public, with the world’s first Bollywood Park, the region’s first Legoland and Motiongate – filled with attractions on themes like Hunger Games and the Smurfs. The Dubai Parks and Resorts complex will also have a central family-friendly hotel, for guests wanting to wake up to theme park views each day.

    Al Fahidi District (Bastakiya)

    Escape the skyscrapers of the city centre and travel back in time with a trip to Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, also known as Bastakiya. This atmospheric area in Bur Dubai is one of the oldest heritage sites in the city, with a neighbourhood that dates back to the early 1900s. A tour of the area offers a beguiling glimpse into the Dubai of a bygone era including traditional wind towers, courtyards and maze of winding alleyways. You can learn about the culture and heritage of the region at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and enjoy a traditional breakfast, or wander into some of the courtyard cafes that have made Bastakiya home, such as the Arabian Tea House (with over 100 teas to choose from), or XVA Café with its own art gallery and boutique hotel.

    Dubai Mall

    The largest shopping mall in the world and home to over 1,200 stores, Dubai Mall is an attraction in itself with its own aquarium and ice-rink among others. The mall has every brand you can think of, from high-street to high-end and dining outlets for all budgets. It is situated in downtown and should be combined with the Dubai Fountains, a water display that happens every evening, accompanied by a light show at Burj Khalifa.

    Dubai Desert

    A trip to the city emerging from the desert, is not complete without a visit to the desert. Visitors to Dubai can experience the desert on one of many desert safaris, taking in the landscape at sunset with camel rides, falconry displays, dune drives, traditional dinners and entertainment.


    With so many nationalities living in Dubai, it is a melting pot for cuisine in Dubai, whether it is cheap eats at Ravi’s, a long-time favourite with all travellers wanting great quality Pakistani food, or fine-dining in one of the many celebrity chef restaurants such as Marco Pierre White’s Wheelers of London.

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