The Week in Focus: Be wary of a post-TCF world

The Week in Focus: Be wary of a post-TCF world
By admin


The torturous process of reforming travel agent licensing and consumer financial protection continues to be just that. Torturous.

Lord knows what it must be like for Jayson Westbury, chief executive of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, who has really been spearheading the charge, if such a word can be used for a snail-paced process like this.

It must be enormously frustrating.

But, while it may not seem it, we are getting somewhere, and a submission from AFTA concerning the Travel Industry

Transition Plan took us a small step forward this week. Other parties have also submitted responses but few have been made public.

It is safe to assume however that the agency groups are in general agreement with AFTA’s recommendation and it must be hoped that a meeting in December of the powers that be will ratify these ideas and the process can move forward with purpose.

Questions are regularly asked about what will replace the Travel Compensation Fund when the body is wound down, as now seems inevitable, be it next year or in three years’ time. Even the TCF would probably admit privately that its days are numbered.

From where I’m standing the answer to that is not a lot. In the absence of state travel agent licencing there will be a voluntary accreditation scheme and the industry will generally self regulate. All fine.

But the bottom line for consumers is that in the absence of a TCF they will not be protected should another Kumuka go under, as will inevitably happen.

Now this needs clarifying. The TCF’s remit is far too narrow and the scheme is outdated. Participants are paying for the failings of others without any

But there can be no doubt that the TCF has helped, and will continue to help consumers, who have booked a holiday in good faith through a licensed agent and wholesaler which then goes to the wall.

As far as I can tell, that financial help will cease to exist when the TCF goes and, not withstanding protection covered by credit card providers, the consumer will be out of pocket.

There is some suggestion that insurance companies will launch insolvency policies when the time comes. But from what I can gather, there is little appetite for this from insurers, at least not yet.

Some people in the industry have compared travel to other industries which don’t have TCF schemes. The argument goes that when you buy a fridge and the firm collapses, you don’t automatically get refunded, so why should travel be any different?

In my opinion the two are incomparable. For a start, when you buy a TV or a fridge or most other goods, you walk away with it at the of the transaction. With travel, you have nothing but a piece or paper for weeks and months before you see the product. You are buying on trust.

In addition, a holiday is an emotional, big ticket item. Without wishing to be over dramatic, we live for our precious holidays and time away from the office.

If a consumer is unable to be refunded after booking through a travel agent or wholesaler, there could be a backlash which the industry may not like.

The national media lap up tales of people stranded overseas after an Air Australia-type collapse. The same could happen when the next Kumuka goes bust and that will not be a good look for the trade.

Reform is needed and it’s perfectly understandable that agents are tired of putting money in a pot that they will never get any benefit from. But let’s not forget the consumer in all this and what it could mean further down the line.

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

Latest News

  • Cruise
  • Luxury
  • News

Scenic Eclipse II – the business of creating unforgettable life-changing memories 

Travel Weekly’s Nancy Hromin and Hoda Alzubaidi hopped on the ultra-luxe Scenic Eclipse II on the weekend, at the overseas passenger terminal, as it prepares for its sail that evening. They spoke to Anthony Laver, General Manager for Sales and Marketing and Jason Flesher, Director of Discovery Operations.  TW It’s a crowded market and there […]

  • Cruise
  • News

MSC builds new hospital ship with Mercy Ships

Cruise line MSC has joined forces with Mercy Ships International, through the MSC Foundation and the MSC Group, to build a new hospital ship.  The new purpose-built hospital ship will expand the impact of Mercy Ships’ life-changing surgeries, anaesthetic care and surgical education for future generations of patients and healthcare professionals in sub-Saharan Africa. Chairman […]

  • Aviation

FLIGHT REVIEW: The Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner business class

There are only a few airlines that make you feel right at home as soon as you board and fewer safety videos that leave you with a proud tear in your eye. Call it clever branding, but it really hits home! Highlighting the talented Qantas employees around the world all while promoting their broad international […]

  • News
  • Technology
  • Travel Agents

Traveltek offers travel agents new rapid deploy cruise website

Traveltek has developed an affordable and convenient solution for cruise booking websites, tailored to meet the needs of travel agents. Created with Digitaltravel.io, the easy-to-deploy, customer-facing ‘out of the box’ cruise solution is available as a fully bookable website or a search-only widget and is designed for small businesses with a specific focus on growing […]

  • Tour Operators
  • Travel Weekly TV

What sets Eclipse Travel apart with Africa expert Hilary Dubyk: Travel Weekly TV

Join Hilary and Nancy on the couch in the weeks episode and learn a little more about why Hilary loves ‘the Mother Continent’ so much and why she thinks the expedition cruise space is one of the most exciting to watch in 2024. Hilary is an absolute Africa specialist who has found a home in […]

  • Destinations
  • Tourism

Surge in Australians visiting Japan

The number of Australians visiting Japan in the first quarter of 2024 increased by 46.3% compared to the same period in 2019, new data released by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) shows. Visitor numbers in March alone were up a staggering 87.4% compared to March 2019. “These figures are fantastic to see and confirm what […]

  • Cruise
  • Luxury
  • News

Seabourn announces Western Kimberley Traditional Owners as Godparents of Seabourn Pursuit

Seabourn has named Western Kimberley Traditional Owners, the Wunambal Gaambera, as Godparents of the ultra-luxury purpose-built Seabourn Pursuit. It is the first cruise line to appoint Traditional Owners as godparents of a ship. Seabourn Pursuit embarks on its inaugural season in the Kimberley region this June. The naming ceremony will take place on Seabourn Pursuit’s […]

  • Luxury

Malolo Island Resort opens brand new Spa

Fiji’s Malolo Island has added another string to its bow – opening its $1.3 million day spa on Thursday, 18th April 2024. (Lead Image: matriarch Rosie Whitton with spa staff) Located at the edge of the resort’s luscious patch of tropical rainforest, the new “Leilani’s Spa” adds another level of elevated experiences to Malolo’s already […]