Tourism

CATO, CLIA and ATEC unite to chart post-COVID course

Three of Australia’s peak tourism industry bodies have met to discuss key concerns during the coronavirus pandemic, including how they will rebuild consumer confidence.

The Council of Australia Tour Operators (CATO) met with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) with a view to confirming relevant cross-sector support.

CATO’s Adelaide-based chairman, Dennis Bunnik, took advantage of the recently reopened border between South Australia and New South Wales to visit Sydney for high-level meetings.

“Throughout the COVID crisis, CATO has vigorously advocated for industry unity and working together for the greater good,” Bunnik said in a statement.

“These high-level meetings with CLIA and ATEC were an important part of this process.”

Through the series of meetings, CATO said the conversations centred around joint concerns over border closures, government support, media coverage, COVID-safe travel protocols, and the rebuilding of consumer confidence post-pandemic.

“Even though each association is dealing with its own unique challenges around COVID, there are common threads that are important to explore for the benefit of all of us,” CATO managing director Brett Jardine said, describing the collaborative efforts.

The council’s discussions with CLIA acknowledged that the industry sectors they represent produce an enormous quantity of the product supplied to, and marketed cooperatively through, travel agents.

“CATO and CLIA members are heavily invested in retail distribution. It’s clear that both sectors will play a vital role in leading the recovery of the outbound travel industry,” Jardine said.

The two bodies also shared information on government lobbying efforts around border issues and committed to continue working together on this and other areas of mutual interest.

CATO leadership also met with ATEC managing director Peter Shelley to consider the travel industry’s product distribution ecosystem, and the importance of tour operators and wholesalers.

The discussion also considered the role of inbound tour operators, which had largely been hidden from government view but will be critical for the industry’s recovery, CATO said.

“Whilst CATO is focused primarily on outbound travel, and ATEC focused on inbound, our needs are 100 per cent complimentary as our members’ products and services underpin aviation capacity into and out of Australia,” Jardine said.

“It is vital that we join forces in supporting a coordinated plan to open our borders.”

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