Australia’s peak body for tour operators held reflected on its achievements over the past year and confirmed its new board at its annual general meeting (AGM) in Sydney last week.
The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO)’s managing director Brett Jardine gave members an overview of the past 12 months, confirming the organisation was in a strong financial position.
Members showed their support for CATO’s various projects, including the introduction of industry-standard booking Ts&Cs, handling of future travel credits, finalising grant applications, developing COVID safe travel protocols and support and growth training as the industry emerge from COVID.
During the last 12 months, CATO’s main focus was advocacy work and lobbying for the land-supply sector, as well as education to support the rebuild and recovery of the industry.
The ongoing collaborative efforts with the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) and the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) played a major role in securing the third round of government funding from the Consumer Travel Support Program.
“Whilst it has been another challenging year as our industry continued to grapple with the effects of COVID and government-imposed restrictions on our collective businesses, CATO membership numbers have recently exceeded 200 for the first time,” Jardine said.
“We are now also at a point where strong interest and enthusiasm is returning for international travel and members are busier than ever dealing with pent-up demand.”
CATO’s new board was also revealed at the AGM, with six out of ten board positions this year open for election including the vice-chair position.
Lisa Pagotto of Crooked Compass was elected by CATO members as vice-chair for a 2-year term, and the remaining fice portions were filled by Pointon Partners Lawyers’ Aaron Zoanetti, Entire Travel Group’s Brad McDonnell, Sno’n’Ski Holidays’ David Walker, Sundowners Overland’s Liz Anderson, and G Adventures’ Sean Martin.
Bunnik Tours’ Dennis Bunnik remains CATO Chair as he is midway through his 2-year term along with board members Intrepid’s Brett Mitchell, Julie King & Associates’ Julie King and The Travel Corporation’s James O’Donnell.
Bunnik provided members with a positive outlook for the year ahead with the organisation committed to emerge from the pandemic with continued strong member support through investment in additional resources and initiatives.
CATO will also continue to collaborate closely with other industry bodies including AFTA, ATEC and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in areas of mutual benefit.
“I look forward to working in the year ahead with the newly appointed board as we emerge from the global pandemic with continued challenges to ensure we provide much-needed support to our members and collaborate to build a more sustainable industry,” Bunnik said.
During the event, members also heard from Student Educational Travel Organisation chair, David Walker on how the educational travel sector was rebounding from COVID and from CATO lawyer and travel law specialist, Aaron Zoanetti, from Pointon Partners Lawyers who addressed areas of concern from members.
Featured image: front row L to R: Brett Jardine, CATO, Lisa Pagotto, Crooked Compass, David Walker, Sno’n’Ski Holidays, Dennis Bunnik, Bunnik Tours, Julie King, Julie King & Associates, Liz Anderson, Sundowners Overland, Brad McDonnell, Entire Travel Group, back row L to R: Aaron Zoanetti, Pointon Partners Lawyers, James O’Donnell, The Travel Corporation and Sean Martin, G Adventures (supplied)