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CHOICE uses TCF funds to establish travel watchdog

August 11, 2014 Corporate, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59Following the deregulation of travel agents a few weeks ago, CHOICE has reached agreement with state and territory governments to set up a new Consumer Travel Hub project, to be launched later this year.

CHOICE, the non-profit consumer advocacy group previously known as the Australian Consumers Association, says the project will provide a mix of research, tailored information, education campaigns and advocacy “to significantly improve the experience of Australian consumers in the travel market”.

“With a planned launch date of late 2014, the hub will identify issues with travel providers, products and services, and bring these issues to the attention of governments, regulators and industry,” a CHOICE statement said.

CHOICE reached agreement with state and territory ministers in July, with the project to receive funding of AUD 2.8 million over four-and-a-half years, provided from the now-defunct Travel Compensation Fund (TCF).

“This matches the funding already provided to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents to set up a voluntary self-accreditation scheme from 1 July 2014,” CHOICE says.

“Funding has also been provided to state and territory governments to raise awareness about the changes to the travel industry.”

Key features of the CHOICE proposal are: 

  • Ensuring there is a strong consumer voice in the Australian travel market, identifying emerging consumer issues, and advocating for solutions.
  • Publishing and promoting independent advice for Australian travellers on their consumer rights and protections, including common issues around travel agents and other providers.
  • Providing unbiased reviews and how-to guides for navigating consumer travel products and services, including travel insurance.

CHOICE was one of several groups invited by Australia’s consumer affairs ministers to apply for funding to establish a consumer voice in the travel industry.

“This followed the decision of ministers to abolish the Travel Compensation Fund, which since 1987 was part of licensing arrangements for Australian-based travel agents,” CHOICE told readers a couple of days ago.

“The fund also paid more than AUD 60 million in compensation to consumers left high and dry when agents went bust, such as when a Sydney-based cruise company went into administration in 2012.”

CHOICE added that while it recognised the travel industry was evolving, CHOICE advocated for reforming the TCF rather than abolishing it.

“We also argued that if the fund were abolished, dedicated resources should be provided for consumer protection.

“When ministers decided to abolish the fund anyway, and to provide funding to the travel industry to set up a voluntary self-accreditation scheme, we argued that comparable amount should be provided to help consumers.’

Edited by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Robyn Lawley says:

    Now this I do not understand – The Government said get behind your federation and support them, but now they give $2.8M to
    Choice – how is that supporting AFTA/ATAS – This is wrong – Choice were very vocal in the first instance against ATAS and now
    they are receiving money to stick their nose in – I smell a big fat smelly fish. The Deed Trust advises the money is to go to the States – how on earth does it then get given to CHOICE – Give the money to AFTA/ATAS to do the job they were given to do.

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