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

  • Fri, August 23, 2019 3:14 PM | Deleted user
    • Where is the legal line between the two definitions? What are the potential ramifications of stepping over it?
    • Many Australian travel agents might not realise that they have already acted as tour operators.

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today raised concerns for retail agents that look directly to overseas operators when packaging itineraries and creating custom tours for clients.

    Examples of this might include an Australian retail agent working directly with a local ground operator in France’s Champagne region to create a private cycling journey; or with a US based operator to develop a unique New York shopping tour for its own customers. Or it could be as simple as contracting airport transfers directly with a local service provider.

    CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine said that, “Where an agent is piecing together components from off-shore suppliers—as opposed to suppliers with a commercial presence in Australia—there is the possibility for unintended consequences like the agent being deemed a tour operator and, therefore, potentially liable in the event of incidents and accidents in destination.”

    “There is nothing to stop anyone from choosing how their business operates in this regard, but retail agents are encouraged to be well-informed from a legal perspective and also confirm their insurances provide appropriate coverage in cases like this”, added Jardine.

    CATO Associate Member spokesperson Aaron Zoanetti, Head of the Travel & Events division at Melbourne based law firm Pointon Partners said, “Whilst having a robust set of Booking Conditions is an effective way to help protect your interests if something goes wrong during travel, Booking Conditions themselves can provide a false sense of security.”

    Significantly, Zoanetti added that, “If you package up components from different suppliers and sell at an inclusive price on your own terms then, irrespective of what your Booking Conditions say, there is a real risk of crossing over from ‘agent’ to ‘principal’. If a customer suffers personal injury due to the negligent actions or omissions of your local supplier or operator, then you could be directly responsible.”

    According to Zoanetti, “Once the retailer crosses over from ‘agent’ to ‘principal’, the services the retailer supplies to the customer are not limited to simply arranging the booking. They also extend to the actual operation of the tour including services provided by local suppliers.”

    “Things can go wrong. But if you have the right legal documentation in place, you should be able to mitigate the risks associated with the negligent acts of your suppliers”, he added.

    CATO urges travel agents who may think they’re exposed this kind of risk to seek independent legal advice.

    For additional information and inquiries, please contact:

    • Brett Jardine Managing Director, Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO)
    • T: +61 2 9287 9906 | M: +61 2 419 724 909
    • E:

  • Fri, August 02, 2019 10:28 AM | Deleted user

    In addition to the 2019 Event incorporating the first ever CATO Awards stream, the National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) also shone the spotlight on a number of CATO member businesses who were named as Australia's best in their respective categories.

    Image: The APT Team collecting its 'Best Tour Operator - Domestic' award.

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) congratulates all members that were recognised as finalists across numerous categories and to each of the following 'land-focused tour operators and wholesalers for being recognised as the very best in the business.

    • APT: Best Tour Operator – Domestic
    • Bunnik Tours: Best Tour Operator – International
    • Entire Travel Group: Best Specialty Wholesaler
    • Qantas Holidays & Viva Holidays: Best Wholesaler - Australian Product
    • Adventure World: Best Wholesaler - International Product
    • Kat Nitarski, On The Go Tours: Best Sales Executive – Land
    • Club Med: Best Hotel/Resort Group
    • APT: Best River Cruise Operator

    "The 2019 NTIA Awards were a watershed for CATO", said Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO.

    Image: Brett Jardine introduces the inaugural CATO Awards.

    "Not only we were delighted to present the first ever CATO Awards, but it was immensely satisfying to see so many CATO member businesses shine at the travel industry's premier awards—it truly is demonstrative of their relentless pursuit of excellence", added Jardine.

    Image: Neil Rodgers and the Adventure World team taste NTIA success.

    Some 1300 guests from every sector of the travel industry - agents, airlines, hotels and car hire providers, tour operators, wholesalers, river and cruise operators - attended the event.

    CATO was brought further into focus through its partnership with Star Alliance—the two organisations giving away around $100,000 worth of flights and land packages to lucky winners throughout the night.

    Image: That "I've just won a holiday thanks to CATO and Star Alliance" feeling.

    Dennis Bunnik, CEO of Bunnik Tours, and CATO Chairman had a lot to celebrate. "The Bunnik Tours family was delighted to be named Best Tour Operator - International and, for me as CATO Chairman, it was incredibly gratifying to see CATO and its members make such an impact at the travel industry's biggest annual forum", he said.

    Image: The Bunnik Tours team celebrates.

    Click HERE to learn more about the CATO Awards.

  • Tue, July 23, 2019 9:17 AM | Deleted user
    • The first ever CATO Awards have been run and won at the Australian travel industry's night-of-nights—the National Travel Industry Awards
    • Four award categories. Three winning travel consultants. Who made history twice? 

    Image: Jenny Tucker, Michelle Barker and Leanne Flanagan-Smith with Brett Jardine and their sparkling CATO Awards.

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is thrilled to announce the winners of the inaugural CATO Awards stream named at the National Travel Industry Awards held in the Grand Ballroom of the International Convention Centre, Sydney, on 20 July, 2019.

    The world class venue played host to some 1,300 travel industry guests from every sector of the industry - airlines, hotels & car hire providers, tour operators, wholesalers, river and cruise operators and of course leisure, corporate and online travel agencies.

    "We're so proud of the CATO Awards and acknowledge the opportunity provided by AFTA in sharing the NTIA stage. The “CATO’s” are an articulation of the level of connectivity and engagement between travel agents and suppliers of quality touring and experiential travel product—two vibrant parts of the retail travel ecosystem", said Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO.

    Image: Brett Jardine presenting the CATO Awards on stage with representatives from the awards' sponsors—The Travel Corporation, Globus, Intrepid and G-Adventures.

    "To see the CATO Awards take place at the travel industry's biggest annual event was the culmination of effort from many areas and, importantly, the calibre of finalists was terrific. And to see one consultant walk away with TWO CATOs was remarkable", said Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO.

    The CATO Awards stream recognises and rewards consumer-facing travel consultants in four core categories:

    • Adventure Travel
    • Group Touring
    • Ski
    • F.I.T.

    "Each of the four category was hotly contested and we congratulate every finalist. All CATO members recognise the significant effort that goes into the journey from the moment of nomination to attending the awards gala with high-hopes", continued Jardine.

    Image: Michelle Barker accepting one of her two CATO Awards.

    AFTA and CATO congratulates the inaugural winners of the CATO Awards:

    • ADVENTURE TRAVEL: Leanne Flanagan Smith from Back Track Adventures
    • SKI: Jenny Tucker from Travel Partners
    • GROUP TOURING: Michelle Barker from Jayes Travel
    • F.I.T: Michelle Barker from Jayes Travel

    The CATO Awards were sponsored by Globus, G-Adventures, Intrepid and The Travel Corporation—four high profile brands demonstrating the renewed collaborative focus of Australia's land-supply sector.

    To learn even more about the CATO Awards, CLICK HERE

  • Mon, June 03, 2019 1:35 PM | Deleted user
    • The CATO Awards make their debut at the 2019 National Travel Industry Awards
    • Inaugural finalists for the four CATO Award categories have been named

    CATO - The Council of Australian Tour Operators - is delighted to announce the finalists for the first-ever CATO Awards at this year's National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA).

    "The CATO Awards are a great opportunity for the land-supply side of the travel industry—tour operators, wholesalers and tourism offices—to recognise talented travel consultants across specific market segments”, said Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO.

    “Whilst the inaugural awards are focused on Group Touring, Adventure, Ski and FIT, our goal is to raise awareness of all travel intermediaries that are engaged with CATO, all of whom are proudly ATAS Accredited and supply the Australian travel industry”, added Jardine.

    Pictured above: Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO.

    The winners will be named in the CATO Awards stream at the National Travel Industry Awards Gala Dinner in Sydney on 20 July 2019, recognising and rewarding consumer-facing travel consultants in four categories:

    Adventure Travel

    • Crandon Keddie Cathie Rice Travel WA
    • Jos Bauk Peregrine Travel Centre WA
    • Kelly Pinkerton Student Flights Shellharbour NSW
    • Leanne Flannagan Smith Back Track Adventures QLD
    • Rebecca Hausler Temora Travel NSW

    Group Touring

    • Dayana Brooke The Sustainable Traveller NSW
    • Hannah Campbell Global Journeys QLD
    • Jo Gostin FBI Travel VIC
    • Lisa Campany Flight Centre Edgecliff NSW
    • Michelle Barker Jayes Travel NSW


    • Jenny Tucker Travel Partners NSW
    • Kelly West Noller & Turner Travel Associates QLD


    • Ash Chawla Global Sports Travel and Tours QLD
    • Kieran Mackenzie Altitude Travel Tea Gardens NSW
    • Mathieu Cadart Ucango Pelican Waters QLD
    • Michelle Barker Jayes Travel NSW

    “The CATO Awards are a terrific initiative as they celebrate the people at the front line of selling travel", said AFTA Chief Executive, Jayson Westbury.

    "The addition of the CATO Awards to the 2019 NTIA program is an outstanding demonstration of how the two organisations work so closely together. Everyone at AFTA looks forward to celebrating with each CATO Award winner at the 2019 NTIA Gala Dinner as we showcase the very best of the Australian travel industry at the event to be held in Sydney on July 20th. ", added Westbury.

    The inaugural CATO Awards are being sponsored by Globus, G-Adventures, Intrepid and The Travel Corporation, four high profile brands demonstrating the renewed collaborative focus of Australia's land-supply sector.

    Jardine, for one, is looking forward to the National Travel Industry Awards Gala Dinner and the inaugural CATO Awards.

    "This is the travel industry's night of nights, and we can’t wait to be an integral part of the event,” he said.

    To learn more about the CATO Awards, please click the link below:

  • Fri, April 05, 2019 9:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) recently hosted tour operators, wholesalers and retail networks at a ground breaking event focused on the youth sector in Sydney.

    Hosted by Singapore Airlines, attendees included high profile leaders from across the industry who were keen to understand the current status and travel trends around the youth sector, with a view to establishing some common goals to drive awareness and future growth.

    CATO Managing Director Brett Jardine said “CATO were very pleased to be able to lead discussion on the status of the youth sector and thanked participants for their willing approach to work with CATO in promoting awareness and further opportunities.”

    Jardine opened the event with an in-depth assessment of data focused on Australia’s 18-35’s. Drawing on Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, Jardine confirmed that Australia’s youth sector are our most avid travellers when compared to all age demographics.

    Attendees were provided with startling figures that showed 1.75 million 18-35's went on an overseas holiday in 2018, spending an estimated 38.5 million days away from Australia and delivering a staggering market penetration of 35% within this age bracket.

    Jardine also revealed South-east Asia is by far the most popular region for Australia’s 18-35 holiday makers and Indonesia is the most popular country as a primary destination.

    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.

    The Travel Corporation CEO John Veitch attended the event and said “it was great to come together as an industry to discuss how we further capture this sector of holidays, and ensure we continue to deliver the most amazing experiences for18-35-year-old travellers.”

  • Thu, March 28, 2019 7:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today announced the launch of a new quarterly multiplatform magazine, Ground Control, that puts the spotlight on the land supply sector.

    Ground Control is a B2B magazine designed to connect CATO members, their news, products and information to more than 5000 frontline retail travel agents.

    Read it here

    The mix of industry insights, profiles and feature stories relevant to the wider industry ensures the publication has broad reader interest.

    Powered by sophisticated technology, Ground Control is also truly responsive in a mobile environment instantly transforming virtual print content into a full-screen user-friendly format across all devices.

    That ability to responsively transition also means members and commercial partners can add rich media enhancements to their promotions for maximum impact.

    CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine said “we are already underway in planning for our second edition and we look forward to expanding the publication as we go.”

    The quarterly magazine will be supported by an annual print guide all designed to raise awareness, educate agents and ultimately drive sales for CATO members.

  • Thu, February 21, 2019 5:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today delivered a successful event focused on Crisis Management to nearly one hundred attendees.

    CATO Members and Guests heard from Leann Johnston, Director of Crisis Management & Contingency Planning at Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs followed by a range of experts on crisis management including communications, legal, insurance, leadership and planning.

    Major sponsor RiskLogic opened the event by putting to the audience that “for most organisations it is not ‘Business as Usual‘, so why are the leadership team expected to manage a crisis as part of their normal duties?” The session went on to address the question – what does Crisis Ready Look Like? 

    The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade is Australia’s front line when it comes to major international incidents including consular, humanitarian and security crises. In the second session for the day attendees were given an in-depth look into the role of DFAT from preparatory work through to support for Australians when travelling overseas.

    Session three was a panel of high profile communications experts that included Robyn Sefiani, Founder, Executive Chairman & Reputation Counsel, Sefiani; Jill Collins, Managing Director, Barking Owl Communications and Cara Mygind, Director Communications & Government Affairs, SPG. The panel confirmed how in the event of a crisis, an effective public relations plan is critical and how appropriate communications will go a long way to protect an organisations reputation and often their survival.

    Legal concerns arise prior to, during and following a crisis - be it from a customer liability perspective during travel or exposure to suppliers due to cancellations because of a crisis event. In the fourth session of the day Aaron Zoanetti from Pointon Partners provided a legal perspective around the sort of planning required to ensure that your business (a) meets its duties of care to its customers and (b) mitigates commercial risks which may flow from a crisis event through effective legal documentation.

    Prior to lunch guests were educated on the value of appropriate insurance coverage by Gow Gates Director Specialty, Fred Esteban. This session looked at how to avoid a financial crisis where an incident is out of your control and what happens following an incident where a policy is triggered.

    Author, speaker and leader, Major Garth Callender has lived and managed some of the most extreme crises across the globe following twenty years in the Australian army. He delivered an emotional presentation based on his first-hand experience on how the impact of a crisis can be minimised by well-prepared teams and effective leadership.

    A key ingredient in international travel is healthy airline partners that are exceptionally well prepared in the event of an incident. AFTA CEO, Jayson Westbury interviewed former Qantas executive Steve Limbrick where they confirmed an airline crisis is not limited to the brand involved. It was agreed our entire industry could be impacted and attendees were given a clear picture of the extraordinary depth of preparation that goes into ensuring stability within the airline sector and flow on effect to all industry participants.

    In the closing session, delegates were given a wrap of the day by Dr David Beirman and provided a template for attendees to confidently develop their own crisis management plan.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

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