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

  • Mon, September 19, 2022 4:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO), and the Korea Tourism Organization Sydney Office (KTO) have united to deliver some valuable CATO member events over the coming weeks in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.

    The events will commence in Melbourne on Wednesday 21st September 2022 at the Intrepid Group Head Office, where CATO members will hear from Intrepid co-founder Geoff Manchester, on the benefits of B-Corp Certification.

    CATO members will hear from Alissa O'Connell, Global Head of People and Culture, Flight Centre Travel Group, at the Brisbane event on Thursday 6th October 2022, at Mojo’s Bistro. Alissa will share insights into talent acquisition and employee retention in the current climate.  

    The trio of events will conclude in Sydney on Wednesday 19th October where CATO Vice-Chair, Lisa Pagotto will emcee a Korean style banquet, sharing insights in conversation with senior members of the KTO team.

    “These events are part of CATO’s renewed focus on providing valuable networking opportunities and support for members, as they continue to emerge from COVID, and we are grateful for the support of KTO Sydney.” said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

     “We are delighted to be partnering with CATO to showcase South Korea and highlight the variety of adventure that can be enjoyed, the exciting food scene as well as Korea’s unique natural assets.” said Insook Lee, Director, Korea Tourism Organization Sydney Office.

    To register for the events please click here

  • Mon, August 29, 2022 10:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is delighted to announce its new platinum member, Aeronology, which specialises in point of sale (POS) technology for Travel Advisors and Arrangers.

    “Aeronology has developed a unique product, combining online distribution platforms and tour products, making it easy for customers to buy, sell and service quickly and productively. With the current challenges in resourcing, this platform offering will provide significant benefit to our members” said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    “Aeronology is extremely proud to be associated with CATO, and will provide its members with the tools, especially Air distribution, that the industry needs for its customers. We offer an easy-to-use platform to use for their travel agents and customers” advised CEO Russell Carstensen.” 

    “We have received extremely positive feedback from our first Tour Operator customer, Journey Beyond and this has resulted in them plugging in Aeronology Air to their selling tools without the stress of increasing staff numbers or expertise.” added Carstensen.

    CATO has recently achieved a new milestone of over 200 members.

  • Thu, August 25, 2022 12:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    TIME’s partnership with CATO has resulted in their generously committing to funding a scholarship for the 26 October 2022 intake for an up-and-coming leader of the future

    With 2022 being the start of a new era in travel this opportunity has been provided for a prospective mentee who wishes to upskill to meet the demands of the future and to have access to a mentor who is an experienced industry leader. These people have always provided invaluable insight and a springboard for aspiring and motivated people to be able to grow their career.

    Applications for the scholarship are now open to all Australian employees of the travel industry (providing they meet the criteria) for the intake commencing on 26 October 2022

    Take that step now If you are committed to equipping yourself for the industries’ challenges of the future and apply before the deadline of Monday 26 September 2022

    “CATO is delighted to partner with TIME to provide further support to the travel industry as we emerge from a challenging few years. Now is the time to invest in our future leaders, to retain expertise, passion and knowledge for the industry, whilst equipping them with personalised mentoring, to support their business/career vision through this scholarship” said Brett Jardine, CATO’s Managing Director.

    “TIME appreciates that there are some aspiring TIME applicants who are not able to fund their own participation and thanks to the generosity of CATO this is being made possible “said Penny Spencer

    To download the application form from the TIME website, click on the link below; 

    To learn more about TIME:
    Visit the website:
    Contact TIME at:

  • Fri, July 29, 2022 3:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has spent this week in Canberra meeting various Government Departments in a bid to further strengthen relationships, and continue its advocacy on areas impacting members, as they struggle to emerge from the effects of the pandemic.

    The week commenced with CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine and CATO Chair, Dennis Bunnik, meeting with the Deputy Chief of Staff and Tourism Policy Advisor from Federal Tourism Minister Don Farrell’s office.

    CATO were provided with an overview of a major staff re-structure that was now complete, with MD Brett Jardine saying, “we are pleased to be able to continue our engagement with supportive and knowledgeable individuals that now hold key roles within the Ministers office.”

    Separate meetings were held with Tourism Research Australia (TRA), Treasury, DFAT and Austrade, where CATO Board Members Lisa Pagotto and James O’Donnell joined Brett Jardine and Dennis Bunnik.

    During the pandemic, CATO worked closely with TRA to help define the true value of outbound leisure travel (more than AUD$12 billion) to the Australian Economy. This work will provide a credible source of data, necessary to ensure our narrative around the value our members provide Australian consumers, as they explore the world. CATO and TRA have committed to an MOU that will detail a scope of works around a major data analysis project that will commence before the end of 2022.

    A further meeting with senior Treasury officials provided a necessary update on the state of the outbound land-supply sector. CATO representatives highlighted three key areas of concern that are impacting members as they struggle to emerge from the effects of the pandemic. These being air capacity, re-employment of skilled workers and consumer confidence.

    “Our ongoing relationship with Treasury is important for government to be well-informed on our challenges”, continued Jardine.

    Finally, a formal industry update was provided at a meeting with Austrade, whose role has now formally expanded as the lead agency across tourism research and export market development grants to also include tourism recovery. Austrade is seeking to understand Australians current propensity to travel, the ongoing use of future travel credits v’s new business, and feedback from organisations that have availed travel. A further update will be provided in the coming weeks, following input from members.

    To conclude the week, CATO have been invited to participate in two major events in Canberra on Friday 5th August. The first joining a roundtable of senior leaders from tourism peak bodies with Minister Hon. Don Farrell and thereafter a roundtable session at Austrade, to provide input into the Australian Government Jobs and Skills Summit. Board Member/Director, James O’Donnell, The Travel Corporation will represent CATO at these meetings.

  • Wed, July 20, 2022 2:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    With just over two weeks to go, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is thrilled to announce an exciting line up of sponsors supporting the inaugural Travel Trivia Masters event.

    Alongside European Travel Commission as Platinum Sponsor and Air Canada as Gold Sponsor, other supporting sponsors are Total Holiday Options, Spain Tourism, Abercrombie & Kent, Greece & Mediterranean Travel Centre, Abu Dhabi Tourism, A-Rosa, Finnair, Quark Expeditions, Travel Agent Finder and Traveltek.

    Richard Taylor, founder of Travel Community Hub and best known for hosting more than 200 webinar discussions that became a recognised source of connection, community and discussion for many people during the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, has been appointed as the MC for the event.

    “Our intent was always to create an event for the whole industry, so we are thrilled at the overwhelming response across all sectors and extremely grateful to the support received from a range of sponsors across the industry. We look forward to seeing all the creativity on the evening, as the Country/Culture themes are brought to life, through costumes and content” said CATO MD, Brett Jardine.

    The event taking place on Thursday the 4th of August will comprise of networking, trivia, a DJ, video booth, prizes and surprises.

    Tickets are almost sold out and we encourage industry partners not to miss out by registering for this event here.

    There are a few remaining sponsorship package opportunities left and for those companies interested, please contact CATO on

  • Mon, July 11, 2022 9:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is delighted to announce that the Australian chapter of the European Travel Commission (ETC) will be the headline, platinum sponsor of the Travel Trivia Masters. This includes the following NTO’s which are members: Atout France, Austria, Flanders (Belgium), Ireland, Italy, Monaco, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.

    Sofia Hansson, Chair of the ETC’s Australia Chapter said, “We are delighted to partner with CATO for the Travel Trivia Masters this year. There are positive signs of recovery, especially with the ease of restrictions and gradual increase in air access, and events like this provide us with an excellent platform to spread the good word about the many great experiences that Australian travellers can enjoy around Europe.”

    Livio Goetz, Vice Chair, ETC Australian Chapter added, “With more air access now, including direct flights to Rome, Europe is open to Australian travellers, and this event provides the perfect platform to re-educate the travel trade on Europe and our destinations in a fun and engaging way.”

    The event taking place on Thursday the 4th of August, invites travel agents, CATO members, and other key industry personnel to enter teams of 10 for a two-course sit-down dinner and drinks.

    CATO MD, Brett Jardine echoed Goetz’s comments by saying, “We are thrilled the ETC Australian chapter is partnering with us for the inaugural Travel Trivia Masters. We look forward to experiencing on the night their showcase of what’s on offer for Europe, utilising trivia as the education platform.”

    With just under a month to go until the inaugural CATO Travel Trivia Masters, tickets are selling out fast and over half of the sponsorship packages have been secured. To register for this event please click here

    To find out more about tailored sponsorship opportunities for the event contact CATO on

  • Wed, July 06, 2022 1:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In line with the direction of the associations strategic plan for 2022/23, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today announced the appointment of Brett Harvey as Business Development & Events Manager.

     This new role, which will sit across both CATO and sister association, the Student Educational Travel Organisation (SETO), will be fundamental in expanding membership, re-establishing and growing CATO’s annual events program and identifying new revenue opportunities for both associations.

    Brett has over 22 years’ experience in the travel industry and largely known for his Business Development and Partnership roles of 5 years with the Intrepid Group, and his role of 12 years with The Travel Corporation. He has spent the last two years in Bangkok teaching tourism, enterprise and entrepreneurship courses.

    “As we move into the recovery phase, we recognise the increased support and initiatives that is needed for our membership, to help them through these challenging times. Bringing in additional revenue streams will allow us to realise and activate our plans across multiple areas, to further assist our members as they rebuild their businesses” said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    “It is an exciting time for CATO and Brett Harvey - his knowledge and experience will add great value to the CATO membership” added Jardine.

  • Sat, March 19, 2022 9:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    • Federal Government’s decision to approve distribution of the remaining funds under the $258 million COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program very welcome 
    • Will support a decimated sector which won’t see revenue return before late 2022 
    • Support is vital for inbound and outbound market recovery 

    Australia’s travel and tourism businesses thank the Morrison Government and Federal Tourism Minister the Hon Dan Tehan for the decision to release the outstanding $75.5 million approved as part of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program.

    Peak Industry bodies the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) and Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) applaud the decision which will provide much needed support for travel professionals and businesses across Australia supporting outbound and inbound tourism.

    The Facts

    • Pre-COVID, 70% of all international bookings in Australia were made through travel agents – this is on the rise with 16% of all new enquiries coming from those using a travel professional for the first time 
    • Australia’s travel industry has had revenue falls of 90%+ since the imposition of the international travel ban more than 700 days ago, resulting in15,000 professional jobs, a third of the sector, being lost 
    • Up to $6 billion worth of outbound credits for COVID-impacted travel in the system which we are managing on behalf of Australians 
    • 52% of bookings are reusing existing credits from COVID-impacted travel 
    • On average 51% of all travel businesses’ work is assisting clients using these credits Inbound Tour Operators have had no business for 2 years and now need to invest heavily to convert international booking enquiries, as well as promote Australia to international travellers 
    • Bookings finalised today will not convert to revenue for ITO businesses until late this year leaving a significant cash-flow gap in the meantime 

    Quotes attributable to AFTA CEO Dean Long

    “It is critically important that these funds are distributed quickly to those eligible businesses and we believe the revised eligibility framework will facilitate that. Australians travelling are relying on their travel professionals now more than ever and this financial support is needed to start the process of rebuilding including replacing the 15,000 highly skilled people lost across Australia due to the financial devastation of COVID-restrictions and travel bans.” 

    “Securing support for our people and the wider sector has been an intense campaign which AFTA has invested in over every single day of the past two years. We are very grateful for the ongoing support of Federal Tourism Minister the Hon Dan Tehan and we continue to work closely with the Morrison Government on the recovery of Australia’s Travel Sector.”

    “We thank the Minister for taking up our concerns about the initial eligibility framework and implementation of the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program and we trust that these issues will not be repeated with the distribution of the remaining $75 million.”

    “We also thank Pat Conaghan, Federal Member for Cowper for his sustained effort in championing the need for ongoing support for the Travel Sector along with the many Members of Parliament who have met with and continue to meet with their local travel professionals.”

    Quotes from ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley

    “While international visitors are now free to come to Australia, our members estimate the gap between borders re-opening and the point at which they are likely to see any meaningful business will be 6-12 months,” ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley said. “This additional funding will help our ITO’s get over that last hurdle and back into the market providing support in re-tooling these businesses with the experienced staff and booking conversion activity that will be required to rebuild Australia as a destination. We are pleased the Government has recognised the unique needs of these segments of the tourism industry and is willing to support, in particular, the future success of our tourism export businesses.”

    Quotes attributable to CATO Managing Director Brett Jardine

    “We would like to acknowledge and thank Federal Tourism Minister the Hon Dan Tehan and the Morrison Government for addressing our urgent need for support and provide critical funding to our sector businesses and the wider industry during this time.”

    “This will continue to be a challenging 6-12 months ahead for our sector as revenues are not realised until travel takes place, and businesses will be required to honour their commitment to deliver on travel credits. With this funding support, businesses can now start to invest as they rebuild, re-employ and retain staff in the industry, and put in place processes to ensure Australians are able to travel safely and with confidence.”

    “Our key focus as an Association during the past two years has been to continually advocate for the much-needed support for our members, to all levels of Government. As a wider industry our close collaboration with AFTA, CLIA, and ATEC has elevated and addressed the concerns of the industry further to Government and the Media.”

    Quotes attributable to CLIA Managing Director Joel Katz

    “Support for travel agents and other travel industry professionals is critical right now as we work to achieve a recovery in Australia’s travel sector. This latest initiative will provide welcome benefit to thousands of Australian businesses and individuals – many of whom will play a vital role in reviving Australia’s cruise economy and bringing back billions of dollars in economic opportunities for communities around Australia’s coasts.”

    “As cruise lines work towards a careful resumption in Australia, it’s important to recognise the key role played by travel agents and other local industry suppo

  • Mon, February 07, 2022 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A new Australian peak body, the Student Educational Travel Organisation (SETO), has been established under the umbrella of the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO). The newly established not for profit company will lead the educational travel sector in areas of governance, advocacy, and education with a vision to accelerate education outside of the classroom, ensuring every student can access and benefit from experiential learning opportunities achieved through travel.

    SETO has been set up to function as a conduit between the travel and education sectors incorporating specialist educational travel tour operators, suppliers, teachers, schools, and universities.

    Brett Jardine, CATO and SETO Managing Director said, “The formation of SETO was something that CATO had been planning over the past two years. We acknowledged there was a need in the market for specialisation in the growing educational travel sector. COVID has allowed us the time to appoint a SETO board of directors that reflects the niche market of educational travel and they have worked tirelessly on bringing the idea to fruition. We are delighted to unveil the new Australian peak body to provide an important voice to this market at this crucial time as borders begin to open.”

    There are 10,600 schools and universities in Australia, with over five million students, 89% of these students are under 18 years of age and excited to learn through travel exploration. Education and exploration outside the classroom, covers such programs as study tours, sports tours, ski trips, music and performance tours, language immersion trips, expeditions, and service trips, all forming an essential part of student life.

    Jardine noted, “SETO was the inspiration of CATO board member David Walker who has been appointed as the inaugural Chairman. SETO will fill a gap in the industry, with the idea gaining momentum through the collaboration of existing CATO members specialising in the field of education travel. Anne-Marie Mitchell of GET Education Tours, Jamie Wansey of Student Horizons, Liz Anderson of Sundowners Overland and Pete Fletcher of World Challenge, all providing extensive input in the initial stages with each of their respective businesses recognised as founding members.

    Walker who is also Managing Director of Educational Adventures said, “Learning outside the classroom is an essential part of student development as they move towards their future career in the real world. SETO is committed to ensuring these student opportunities continue to grow, in a safe and sustainable travel environment supported by an elevated level of quality assurance.

    “For teachers who organise student school trips, the happiness and wellbeing of the student provides the teacher with their greatest reward and knowledge that the student is broadening their horizons, becoming more culturally aware and experiencing a positive impact on their personal development,” he said.

    Membership of SETO is a hallmark of competence and integrity for student travel tour operators and suppliers of products and/or services for the Australian travel education sector. SETO certified members are specialists who work in conjunction with education departments and schools to make the student's journey a more meaningful and safer experience.

    Membership applications are now open for Tour Operator/Wholesaler Membership, Dual SETO/CATO Membership and Associate Membership at 

  • Mon, November 08, 2021 12:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today announced an exciting partnership with Bonailie and One Earth, as part of its mandate to further support its members through education, as the industry begins to prepare for recovery, following international border openings.

    This partnership will provide CATO members with access to a purpose-led, community platform, which has a significant focus on educational programs and content. This program will greatly assist members to shift businesses and mindsets to a 21st century model and approach.

    It is designed to provide support to all member businesses which have been under enormous pressure during the pandemic, through loss of income and reduction in staff. The next six months will continue to be incredibly challenging, with reduced staff and inexperienced new employees, as customers utilise travel credits, and travel demand increases exponentially, following the long international hiatus.

    Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO said, “During the last 12 months, CATO has prioritised its focus and time on its Advocacy Pillar to drive our lobbying efforts for the land-supply sector due to the necessity arising from the impact of the global pandemic. Whilst these efforts will continue, we recognise the need to provide additional value to our members, and so we plan to introduce new concepts to our Education Pillar to support the rebuild and recovery of our industry”.

    “CATO has taken time to reflect during the pandemic on the current operations of the land supply sector and as a result we have assessed the future proofing requirements for the sector, to ensure sustainability whilst protecting customers. As part of that overarching strategy, we have implemented several new initiatives, and we aim to further support our members, through educational tools tailored for business owners and managers to reflect new business models and adapt to a constantly changing environment,” said Jardine.

    Julie King, Founder & CEO of Bonailie said, “We are delighted to be partnering with CATO to support its members in this new phase of recovery. The educational opportunities which will be provided as part of the partnership with One Earth, through the ‘Find Your Formula, Audit Your Business for Growth’ Program, will assist members to review gaps in their businesses and make changes across Brand, Product, Channels and Sales. This will provide knowledge on how to “Pull” customers in by leading with “Purpose” rather than push selling, to allow members to scale and grow”.

    “CATO members will also have access to a dedicated virtual ‘Classroom’ to collaborate together, a community group to engage together, access to the annual Unite on Purpose Summit (opened by the United Nations), Global Research, Masterclasses, Webinars and Podcasts from both Bonailie and One Earth,” said King.

    Jardine said, “I have participated in this program myself and believe it will allow members to think differently about preparing for the growth that the economic trends confirm is ahead”.

    As part of Bonailie’s contribution to the industry, for every CATO member signed on to the platform, Bonailie will donate a Bonailie Engage Subscription to an individual or business in need of assistance.

    For more information on CATO go to and for more information on Bonailie go to

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