Wholesalers

CATO decides on future with major restructure

The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) will overhaul the association’s structure to better reflect its status as a national body.

CATO held its 2021 annual general meeting (AGM) last Thursday as the organisation sought member agreement on organisational reform and the exploration of new directions to support its members as part of a more sustainable travel industry.

Brett Jardine (pictured above, left), managing director at CATO, said: “In times of adversity, opportunities arise. One positive outcome of COVID was the time our board had to discuss, plan and develop solutions to arising issues.”

CATO members voted unanimously to support a motion to change the association’s structure from a state-based model to a federal-based model as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.

This will include a new constitution which will include a formal CATO Member Code of Conduct and CATO Member Advertising Code of Conduct.

“Votes received were 100 per cent supportive of the motion to change and evolution under a structure that better reflects CATO’s status as a national body and enable it to move forward with progressive initiatives,” Jardine said.

“As part of these changes, CATO will develop an external independent accreditation scheme, fit for purpose, for the land supply sector.

“CATO members were also updated on the status of investigations into the development of exclusive insurance products, aimed at developing greater agent support and consumer confidence when booking travel product with CATO members.”

Jardine said CATO’s proposed changes will engage with and encourage wider participation from all tour operators and wholesalers nationally, with a view to seeking best practice and greater consistency across all participants.

He also noted that CATO will continue to collaborate closely with other industry bodies including the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, the Cruise Lines International Association, the Australian Tourism Export Council and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in areas of mutual benefit.

The AGM also revealed that the industry body had recorded a surplus of $76,000 with a significant portion of excess funds being used to support members via discounted 2022 membership renewals.

Jardine confirmed that membership retention for 2022 reached an impressive 94 per cent, with total member numbers increasing by 20 per cent across all categories to a total of 180.

Dennis Bunnik of Bunnik Tours (pictured above, right) was re-elected as chairman unopposed at the AGM, and will continue in this capacity at CATO for two years.

Board members voted onto the board for the next term include Brett Mitchell (Intrepid Group), Julie King (Julie King & Associates) and James O’Donnell (The Travel Corporation).

Individuals that are currently mid-term on the CATO board include vice chair Liz Anderson (Sundowners Overland) and board members Lisa Pagotto (Crooked Compass), Brad McDonnell (Entire Travel Group), Peter Douglas (Globus Family of Brands), David Walker (Sno’n’Ski) and Aaron Zoanetti (Pointon Partners).

Bunnik said: “I look forward to working with the appointed board across our four pillars in another challenging year ahead, in order to implement significant, positive and much-needed changes to our industry.

“I would also like to acknowledge Martin Edwards (ex-Bench Africa) and Amanda McCann (Collette), who ended their term on the board, and thank them for their many years of contribution to CATO.”


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