The peak body for cruising has provided its two cents on the Council of Australian Tour Operators’ (CATO’s) controversial discussion paper on travel industry reform.
Within the paper, CATO – based on industry feedback – suggested the AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS) should become an independent body, potentially administered by the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), CATO and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
The discussion paper also proposed the establishment of a comprehensive consumer-funded insolvency protection scheme, which would be made compulsory for all international leisure bookings but only available through ATAS-accredited entities.
According to CATO managing director Brett Jardine, reforming ATAS and the creation of a comprehensive consumer-funded insolvency protection scheme were issues raised time and again in submissions sent to the council.
However, CLIA said that while it would provide its perspective on the discussion paper to CATO and AFTA where appropriate, it had not been involved in its development.
“Unlike CATO and AFTA, CLIA is a global trade association and may therefore be limited in its ability to become directly involved as suggested,” the association said in a statement.
“CLIA strongly supports the interests of its travel agent members during the current COVID-19 crisis and will continue to work with governments and fellow industry bodies to advocate on agents’ behalf.”
The release of the discussion paper to the media was not well-received by AFTA, with the federation’s chair Tom Manwarring saying it had been lobbying government on the evolution of ATAS and the AFTA Chargeback Scheme since March.
“While we recognise this was intended as a discussion paper, we note … AFTA has been looking at the appropriate evolution of ATAS and ACS for close to a year – it’s a highly complex matter,” he said.
“AFTA continues to lobby on these highly sensitive matters including in our pre-Budget submission.
“The chances of success are not elevated as a result of publicly airing these issues in this way.
“We have had preliminary discussions with CATO and prefer to continue these discussions in a collaborative way rather than via the media.”
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