6 travel businesses cancel ATAS accreditation, some look to CATO

6 travel businesses cancel ATAS accreditation, some look to CATO

Half a dozen industry suppliers cancelled their participation in the Australian Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS).

ATAS is an industry accreditation scheme run by the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) which is quite popular around the industry.

Most notably among the six businesses leaving are Bunnik Tours and Sun Island Tours which have opted for a new Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) accreditation scheme that has attracted some wholesalers.

The other four wholesalers to pull out, which are listed on the AFTA website, are V Travel Network, the Gold Coast-based Interline Travel, group tour specialist Morcombe Travel and the agency Zodiac.

Brett Jardine, the managing director at CATO, spoke to Travel Weekly about the new CATO scheme and why it is attracting wholesalers and tour operators.

“The CATO Accreditation scheme, which launched on the 1st of April 2023, is a fit-for-purpose program for the Australian land-supply sector (wholesalers and tour operators only) developed in conjunction with the CATO Member Code of Conduct,” Jardine said.

“It is the product of two years of consultation with members, focus groups, strategy days and board meetings.

“For CATO members that are current AFTA Members, it is their own commercial decision for them to determine if they retain their participation with AFTA’s ATAS Accreditation.

“The CATO Accreditation has been developed specifically for tour operators and wholesalers operating in the land supply sector. The CATO Accreditation will not be available for Travel Agents who (as noted above), operate under a very different business model.”

Sun Islands Tours general manager John Polyviou told Travel Weekly that his business is IATA accredited and a long-standing member of CATO.

“We are a proud participant of the new CATO Accreditation scheme, which is more fit-for-purpose for our wholesale business moving forward,” Polyviou said.

“We originally joined the ATAS accreditation scheme as we operated a retail division, Kyrenia Travel, and felt that ATAS accreditation was necessary for our retail travel business.

“However, we have begun to wind down our retail arm and we therefore feel that the CATO scheme suits our company profile best moving forward.”

More to come.

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