Carnival reaffirms agent focus

Carnival reaffirms agent focus
By admin

Carnival Australia has insisted it remains committed to the trade, despite its recent warning that it may be forced to start selling direct to the public if the Travel Compensation Fund is scrapped.

In a submission responding to the potential shake-up of consumer financial protection in the travel industry, marked confidential but mistakenly posted on the Consumer Affairs website, the cruise line said it may have no option but to bypass retailers and begin a direct sell strategy if the TCF is wound down.

But in a statement today, chief executive Ann Sherry claimed the document had merely highlighted the “worst case scenarios” that could arise. The comments should not be misinterpreted as a plan to reduce engagement with valued travel agents partners, she stressed.

“The extraordinary growth of the Australian cruise industry in recent years is a direct reflection of the work of the travel agent community who we consider to be partners in our business,” she said.

“As Australia’s largest cruise operator, we are concerned about the risk to public confidence in travel agents and the broader tourism community if an appropriate compensation mechanism is not found to replace the TCF.”

Sherry confirmed the cruise line will meet with key travel agent partners and the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) to address industry concerns over the proposals this week.

“Simply scrapping the TCF without a suitable replacement would leave Australian travellers who book through travel agents with limited protection,” Sherry said. However, she conceded reform was required.

“It’s no secret the current TCF arrangement is onerous for travel agents so it’s timely to sit down and find a mechanism that addresses the current challenges and properly balances consumer risk,” she said.

AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury said last week he was keen to work through Carnival’s concerns.

No one wanted to see the cruise line take agents out of their distribution channel, he told Travel Today.

Consumer Affairs ministers will meet on December 7 to review the Draft Travel Industry Transition Plan.

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