The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has issued a rallying cry to the travel industry and holidaymakers to work together in these unprecedented times to ensure the best possible outcome for the future.
CATO managing director Brett Jardine commended the efforts of the entire industry for its proactive customer-focused approach to dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
“It is obvious that frontline staff across all sectors of the industry are doing it very tough as they work around the clock to help clients navigate through this,” he said.
“We’ve all faced various crises before, but nothing of this scale and magnitude.
“With borders closing, foreign governments imposing restrictions on movement and the Australian government now imposing self-isolation of travellers returning from an overseas trip, CATO’s view is that an event of force majeure has occurred.”
In typical force majeure circumstances, tour operators, wholesalers and their suppliers would usually be excused from performing their obligations.
However, CATO has urged that the best possible outcome for everyone concerned right now is for customers to be issued with credits for future travel.
“By issuing travel credits, where possible, as opposed to refunds, not only does the traveller have a positive experience in this difficult time with an assurance that their holiday of a lifetime can still be enjoyed at a later date, but the agent with whom they booked also retains their commissions which ultimately guarantees an even stronger industry in the future,” the organisation said in a statement.
“As an industry, we have quickly entered unchartered waters, and now is the time for us all to work together for the long-term prosperity of our industry.
“The travel industry is a vital part of the economy, providing much-needed jobs in cities and country towns throughout Australia.
“Working together to find the best solutions for both travellers and travel planners, we will ensure that the travel industry survives this crisis and when the time is right will be there to help Australians re-book their well-deserved holidays.”