CATO unveils new board members at 2024 AGM   

CATO unveils new board members at 2024 AGM    
Edited by Travel Weekly

    Close to 100 members attended the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) 2024 AGM at the Sydney Hilton hotel last night which also included the announcement of a refreshed board.

    CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine hosted formalities and provided an overview of one the most successful years in the history of CATO, and its 25th anniversary.

    Key points in the review of the last 12 months highlighted CATO’s active role in the delivery of the Reviving International Tourism Grant (RITG) program, the development and delivery of CATO’s Accreditation which included an independent external financial assessment of members and the development and delivery of CATO’s Touring Academy. 

    In addition CATO announced the results of its recent board elections with four Board members re-elected to commence two-year terms and a new members also elected to the board. 

    Board members re-elected:

    • Lisa Pagotto, Founder at Crooked Compass, has been re-elected as Vice Chair 
    • Sean Martin, Managing Director at G Adventures 
    • Brad McDonnell, Managing Director at Entire Travel Group 
    • Aaron Zoanetti, Principal, Frontera Law  

    New board members

    In addition, Ingrid Berthelsen, Co-founder & Managing Director at Evolution Travel Collective has been elected to the Board for the first time.  

    Existing board members

    These newly elected members join the robust CATO board alongside the chair, Dennis Bunnik, and other seasoned board members: 

    • James O’Donnell, Finance Director, The Travel Corporation Australia (TTC)  
    • Julie King, Founder & CEO, Julie King & Associates and Founder of Bonailie  
    • Martin Edwards, Co-Founder & Chief Exploration Officer, The Explorer Society 
    • Yvette Thompson – General Manager – Sales & Marketing ANZ, Intrepid Travel Group 

    Bunnik delivered an address that highlighted the opportunity presented by the development of the CATO Touring Academy and its potential to accelerate the already fast-growing touring sector, through the engagement and training of travel consultants.  

    “Tonight we celebrate 25 years since the inception of CATO and we do so at the most exciting time in the Association’s history,” he said. 

    “The success of the CATO Accreditation rollout and the massive boost to members through RITG funding, are front runners to the incredible opportunity that now lies in front of us with the launch of the CATO Touring Academy. The year ahead will be transformative for the touring sector and we are honoured to be able to help drive this with our members,” Bunnik said. 

    He also presented some topline figures from CATO’s Australians on Holiday report which will be released next week.

    The report, using data from the ABS, Tourism Research Australia, and CATO’s own consumer surveys, provides the most in-depth analysis of the Australian outbound travel sector. In 2023, almost 10 million Australians travelled overseas, of which 57% or almost 5.7 million travelled on holiday.

    Of these, more than 480,000 multi-day tours were undertaken by Australians, including 225,000 traditional coach tours.  

    These numbers clearly demonstrate Australians’ love for touring in all its forms and show the massive opportunity for travel agents wishing to grow their business and safeguard themselves from ever-reducing airline revenue. 

    “The last 12 months have been one of CATO’s most successful years in history and I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Dennis Bunnik and our Board for the support and commitment to realise and drive our strategic vision.” CATO managing director Brett Jardine said.

    Feature image: CATO chair Dennis Bunnik, board member Lisa Pagotto and CATO MD Brett Jardine in 2022.

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