It’s on! Reform given green light

It’s on! Reform given green light
By admin


The Travel Compensation Fund will be wound up and travel agent licensing legislation repealed after consumer affairs ministers today gave the green light for industry reform.

But the refusal of two states – Western Australia and South Australia – to accept the recommendations could throw a spanner in the works.

Both states are "considering their position" following today's ministerial council on consumer affairs meeting in Sydney.

The council approved, by a majority, the Travel Industry Transition Plan (TITP) that will begin on July 1 next year with full implementation of a new structure in 2015.

"All jurisdictions will cooperate to achieve implementation of the plan and South Australia and Western Australia will consider their position in light of the national scheme no longer operating," a communiqué said.

Prudential supervision will end in mid 2013 followed by the repeal of travel agents' legislation by mid 2014.

There will be "reliance on the Australian Consumer Law" as well as "industry-led regulatory mechanisms and market based remedies such as credit card chargebacks to protect consumers".

It added that the TCF will be wound up with a "proportion of remaining reserve funds" dedicated to states and territories "who choose to adopt the TITP".

Cash will be spent on a "range of purposes" including the creation of an industry-led accreditation scheme.

The communique added: "In implementing the plan, governments and agencies will work with industry to ensure there is appropriate dislocloure of consumer risk in agency transactions and in developing commercial solutions to address business insolvency."

Jayson Westbury, chief executive of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), described it as a "landmark decision" and a "major win for common sense".

"These are essential reforms to future proof the Australian travel industry while still ensuring appropriate consumer protection and a robust industry-led structure to underpin the professionalism desire by all stakeholders," he said.

"The transition plan has recognised the reality that the previous National TCF scheme has failed to keep pace with the rapid transformation of the way consumers shop for travel and the way our industry has changed."

He confirmed AFTA will hold talks with SA and WA to convince them of the need to participate.

Westbury said that while most of the TCF's $30 miilion reserves will be distributed to states and territories, grants will be provided to set up the accreditation scheme and a consumer advocate supporting the transitional arrangements.

"This is a big day for the travel industry," he said. "We have all been waiting patiently for this reform and if not for the courage and conviction of a few determined ministers, travel agents of Australia may have been left hanging.

"Sometimes our politicians get things right and today they have got things perfectly right."

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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