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

  • Fri, December 13, 2019 11:28 AM | Deleted user

    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:

    • The launch of CATO's dedicated travel trade publication, Ground Control magazine.
    • The launch of the new digital Your Travel Magazine for consumers.
    • The inaugural CATO Awards stream at the National Travel Industry Awards.
    • The announcement that the CATO Awards will be a stand-alone event in 2020.
    • The release of CATO’s 'Australians on Holiday - International Leisure Travel Trends' research report into Australia’s outbound leisure market.
    • Delivery of CATO’s 2nd Crisis Management conference.
    • The appointment of a specialist communications partner, Resource. 

    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.

  • Wed, December 11, 2019 12:11 PM | Deleted user

    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 …

    • What’s new for touring in 2020
    • Bucket list destinations you might not even know about
    • An Insider’s Guide to Madrid
    • Why the Seychelles are making waves

    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

  • Wed, November 13, 2019 4:37 PM | Deleted user
    • The inaugural CATO Awards were delivered within the NTIA program in 2019.
    • The 2020 CATO Awards will be presented across 14 categories, up from four in 2019.

    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:

    • Agency of the Year - Europe
    • Agency of the Year - Americas
    • Agency of the Year - Asia
    • Agency of the Year - Africa/Middle East
    • Agency of the Year - Oceania
    • Consultant of the Year - Group Touring
    • Consultant of the Year - Adventure
    • Consultant of the Year - Youth Travel
    • Consultant of the Year - Ski
    • Consultant of the Year - F.I.T
    • Rookie of the Year
    • Trade Media Award
    • Consumer Media Award
    • CATO Ambassador Award

    “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.

  • Fri, October 18, 2019 10:51 AM | Deleted user
    • The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is set to launch a new consumer title called Your Travel Magazine.
    • Your Travel Magazine will be a quarterly publication optimised for mobile and tablet consumption.

    Building on the tremendous success of its travel trade publication Ground Control, CATO is delighted to announce the launch a new consumer-facing publication targeting active travellers.

    Your Travel Magazine will be a quarterly digital magazine delivered to the inboxes of more than 115,000 Australians who have opted-in to receive travel product information.

    This highly qualified audience will see the land supply sector showcased on every page. And using the same technology as Ground Control, the magazine will be fully optimised for mobile and tablet for a premium multi-platform user experience.

    "We're delighted to announce the launch of Your Travel Magazine," said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    "In particular, we're excited about showcasing the depth and breadth of the Australian land-supply sector directly to engaged travellers," he added.

    Advertising rates have been set to ensure operators and affiliates large and small can take part, and discounts exist for those who invest in both CATO publications.

    Your Travel Magazine and Ground Control are exciting pillars of CATO's ongoing awareness and engagement strategy that puts the land supply sector's key messages and products in front of more than 5,000 retail agents and 115,000 travellers who are ready to plan and book.

    Your Travel Magazine is a partnership with the highly respected publisher of Ground Control—Well Travelled—and CATO Associate Member, Travel Brochures (Leads Corp Pty Ltd).

    The Your Travel Magazine Media Kit can be downloaded at the link below. 
    Your Travel Magazine MEDIA KIT-2019.pdf

  • 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.

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