On the back of six agency failures in 12 months, one travel group argues industry deregulation isn’t at fault.
Mobile Travel Agents co-director has spoken out against renewed debate spurred by the collapse of six travel agencies in the 12 months since deregulation of the Australian travel industry, agreeing productive discourse was a “good thing” but the industry “must not lose sight of the bigger picture”.
Responding to comments questioning the credibility of a deregulated travel industry in recent weeks, MTA co-managing director, Roy Merricks said while deregulation and later formation of ATAS on July 1 2014 was initially instigated by AFTA, it also drew “on wide ranging industry consultation across a more than five year period”.
“There was nothing to be gained by change simply for the sake of change,” Merricks said.
“But the quality of the data in a Regulatory Impact Statement was compelling enough to result in a balanced conclusion as evidenced by government ratification state by state across the country which in itself was no mean feat.”
Merricks added that while the agency failures occurred in the post-deregulated environment, “the reality is that the market is no longer localised geographically and product and process innovation are likely to have much larger consumer welfare effects overall”.
“Simply because they can happen now, comprehensive consumer financial guarantees continue to evolve and be developed by several industry networks, all of which are intended to provide consumer protection limited to the insolvency of any of its members, effectively replacing the former TCF consumer protection,” Merricks said.
MTA were one of the first agency groups to launch its own consumer protection scheme, Zero Flight Risk™, with a multitude of others following suit with various degrees of client funds protection against intermediary or supplier insolvency.
“One year on from deregulation, there is also no doubt the travel landscape has changed and will continue to change,” Merricks said.
“But at the end of the day, the bigger picture comes back to education and elevation of standards (ATAS) and continues to be the progressive way forward.”