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New surveys point to big week for AFTA and ATAS

September 21, 2015 Business News, Headline News 2 Comments Print Print Email Email

egtmedia59The AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS) recently celebrated its first birthday, with about 3500 travel agent locations around Australia having signed up.

AFTA says ATAS is now widely recognised, having achieved 19% recognition among Australian consumers, or 1 in 5, according to a survey conducted by consumer group CHOICE, the results of which are due to be released this week. Another CHOICE survey has been aimed at agents.

The questions in the survey will be of interest. The public might be expected to recognise the name AFTA more than ATAS, simply because the AFTA brand has been around for 58 years, since 1957. ATAS is just over one year old, but AFTA has been promoting it heavily.

AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury was reported last week as saying AFTA has so far spent AUD 700,000 on promoting ATAS to consumers, largely through social media, backed by ads in Virgin and Qantas in-flight magazines.

CHOICE is working in a similar field, having last year reached agreement with state and territory governments to set up a Consumer Travel Hub project “to identify issues with travel providers, products and services, and bring these issues to the attention of governments, regulators and industry,” as a CHOICE statement put it at the time.

The project in which CHOICE is involved is being funded to the tune of AUD 2.8 million over four and a half years, provided from the now-defunct Travel Compensation Fund (TCF). The TCF funds derive  from money paid by travel agents.

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

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

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    Good to know so much money is being spent advertising a scheme that, in reality, offers no level of support or security for the consumer.

  2. andris says:

    Interesting to see some of the details of consumer money from the abolition of the travel compensation fund being used to promote the travel industry commercial interests which clearly are not the same in this instance as consumer interests and consumer protection . It is a bit rich to see consumer money snaffled by the industry and the governments responsible for terminating the TCF and giving the money to commercial representatives to re brand the AFTA/ATAS nexus and promote there market recognition as a consumer benefit . A misuse of consumer money can never be justified , let alone when it is being used to deceive and mislead consumers by claiming benefits for consumers with the implication that those benefits [ theoretical rights ] are superior to the fully paid compensation benefits

    It is fair to say from a consumer perspective that the industry recognition /re positioning /re branding is deliberately deceptive and misleading by the simply omission , that is failure to detail in the public domain their role in the abolition of the TCF and the consumer protection benefits it provided including the payment of compensation . Fair enough such a comparison with the various clients of failed travel agents since 1/7/14 who now have no readily available , simple , one stop accessible consumer safeguards and compensation would bring the current arrangements of the travel industry into immediate disrepute .

    To compare pre 1/7/14 with the current arrangements as part of a marketing exercise would be honest but industry folly and result in the messenger’s disrepute

    The travel industry interests responsible for the abolition of the TCF should in my view be publicly identified and and if that results in there commercial interests being effected adversely , so be it . After all they are responsible for the current consumer detriment and using consumer money from the TCF to promote there own commercial interests claiming falsely by omission or commission that the new arrangements are a consumer benefit

    Choices involvement in receiving funds from the TCF is unfathomable and inappropriate at best and certainly a conflict of interest . The best thing that Choice can do is to withdraw from the present arrangements and return the funding with the request that the sums involved be used to compensate travel agent victims post 1/7/14 in full till the funding granted to Choice runs out

    Choice should lead by example and not promote deregulated or for profit consumer protection arrangements . That is Choice not be seen to be compromised by its funding sources . Consumer money from the TCF should be used for a consumer benefit . Choice promoting even indirectly the AFTA/ATAS and the new arrangements is not appropriate unless at the bottom of the advert/media release etc Choice clearly states this activity has been funded by consumer money sourced from the abolition of the TCF and as a result the full compensation payments the TCF used to pay consumers is now completely un available and the funds in part are being used to promote the new arrangements which have abolished effectively all meaningful and specific consumer protection safeguards in favor of deregulation and the abolition of compensation payments

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