CATO commemorates 25 years of industry leadership and innovation

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Edited by Travel Weekly


    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) commemorated its 25th anniversary with a gala dinner at the Sydney Hilton Hotel that marked a significant milestone in its history.

    The celebration last Thursday was attended by 100 members and industry stalwarts, and was generously sponsored by CATO’s Platinum Partners: TravelPay, Gow Gates, and MINT Payments.

    Since its foundation in 1999, CATO has been a cornerstone of innovation and ethical practices within the land-supply sector of the Australian travel industry. For 25 years, CATO has diligently worked to elevate industry standards, foster innovation, and advocate for sustainable tourism practices.

    The Anniversary Dinner commemorated CATO’s historic milestones and an opportunity to reflect on numerous significant achievements as well as areas where the association has collaborated on advocacy over the last 25 years.

    Some of the highlights include GST exemptions on international travel, price advertising guidelines with ACCC, formation of DFAT’s Smarttraveller Consultative Group, and playing a pivotal role in the review of consumer protection in the travel industry.

    In addition, the association’s heavy involvement in the Consumer Travel Support Program (CTSP), to ensure the land supply sector was included in support programs at the onset of COVID and CATO was at the forefront of delivery of the Reinvigorating International Travel Program (RITG).

    CATO managing director Brett Jardine delivered a compelling speech that highlighted the enduring partnership between tour operators and wholesalers, a collaborative spirit that dates back to 60 years prior to CATO’s official formation.

    From fewer than 50 members, CATO now proudly represents over 260, underscoring the associations substantial growth and ongoing impact on the travel industry.

    A special highlight of the evening was a fireside chat moderated by CATO vice chair Lisa Pagotto. The discussion panel included CATO Life Member Peter Baily, chairman Dennis Bunnik, long-serving former board member Greg McCallum from the Entire Travel Group, and current long-term board member Martin Edwards from The Explorer Society.

    The panel shared invaluable insights into the early days of CATO, its evolution from an informal networking club to a crucial advocate for its members during the pandemic and the organisation that it is today.

    The evening concluded with a ceremonial cake cutting by Life Member Peter Baily, in honour of CATO’s 25 years of dedication and success in the travel industry.

    “It was such a pleasure to host our members and their guests as we celebrated 25-years of all things CATO. When looking back at all the challenges placed in front of us, we can be very proud of what we have achieved in advocating for Australian based tour operators and wholesalers,” said Jardine.

    Feature image: CATO chairman Dennis Bunnik with life member Peter Baily.

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