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AFTA scores $2.8m from TCF but no refunds for agents

July 16, 2013 Corporate, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Australia’s Consumer Affairs Ministers have approved a one-off grant of AUD 2.8 million to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA).

The sum will help AFTA’s work to set up the voluntary, industry-led accreditation scheme that will replace Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) membership.

The AUD 2.8 million will be drawn from current TCF reserves.Cordato Partners-www.tourismlegal.com.au

Hopes that some of the rich pickings from the soon-to-be-defunct TCF might be returned to agents, however, have been dashed.

“I know that many travel agency owners are of the opinion that TCF reserves should be returned to them,” AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury admitted.

“The trust deed that governs the TCF does not allow for that and in fact all TCF reserves at the conclusion of the TCF are to be returned to the state and territory governments under a pre-determined formula. This grant brings a base funding to the industry to ensure that the accreditation scheme can be delivered and established properly.”

At the recent Consumer Affairs Ministers meeting (known as the Consumer

Affairs Forum, or CAF), the ministers approved a grant application by AFTA for the development, implementation and first year of operations of the travel agent accreditation scheme.

The AFTA board appointed Gary O’Riordan to manage the accreditation scheme earlier in the year, before the funding was confirmed. Now the money has been approved, AFTA says it is “appropriately resourced to deliver the scheme”.

“Industry consultation will commence with a national roadshow in the coming months to allow travel agents across the country to be directly involved in the development phase of the scheme,” AFTA stated in a release issued yesterday.

The federation said the draft accreditation scheme criteria would form a key part of the process. Other elements of the rollout plan would be provided over coming months.

“This announcement will mean that AFTA reserves will be maintained, as this grant will totally fund the plans that have been developed by AFTA,” Westbury declared.

“As we go around the country on the roadshows and explain the accreditation scheme and engage in two way communication with agency owners, I am sure everyone will see that our plan is very sound.”

O’Riordan added that he was “really looking forward to getting out amongst the travel industry to talk about the accreditation scheme and engage with as many agents as I can”.

The Travel Industry Transition Plan (TITP) has been progressively rolled out by the Consumer Affairs Ministers with the recent TCF announcements and the relaxing of the annual returns and audit requirements.

Written by : Peter Needham

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