As police hunt for a missing travel agent, his family has apologised to out-of-pocket holidaymakers who have been left feeling duped.
Police would like to speak to the 27-year-old travel agent who is missing from Colac in Victoria’s southwest.
Police have named the travel agent as Jordan Dittloff, the owner-manager of Ace Travel in Colac.
He has reportedly not been seen since Monday last week. Colac residents appear to have lost thousands of dollars they had paid for flights, hotels and tours.
Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper noted that the mystery closure of the travel agency “comes a year after the Napthine Government shut the state’s travel compensation fund which would have given redress to travellers defrauded by their travel agents”.
The closure of the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) also exposes consumers in all other states to the effect of any similar agency failures, which is why some voices in the industry suggest the TCF should return.
Three agents, all unconnected, have collapsed since the start of May. Two of the collapses, including Ace Travel, seem likely to incur consumer losses. If those collapses had happened before Australia’s state and ACT governments cancelled travel agent licensing and disbanded the TCF (with effect from 1 June 2014), the situation would have been very different. All customers would have been protected against the losses they suffered and would most likely have been able to travel as planned. Bad publicity would thus have been minimised.
The Geelong Advertiser said those out of pocket after the closure of Ace Travel in Colac include a group of Scouts who had worked hard to raise the AUD 30,000 they paid for a trip to Fiji, where they were due to help in a village community building project.
A couple allegedly lost almost AUD 40,000, paid for a five-week Italian trip and Mediterranean cruise, while a group of Year 12 students lost AUD 6000 paid for a schoolies trip to the Gold Coast.
The Scouts may be covered, as Scouts Australia has reportedly stepped in and said it will pay for the trip so the group can still go.
In a statement to the Herald Sun, the Dittloff family, including Dittloff’s well respected parents Sue and Michael, said: “We are particularly disappointed and apologetic to Jordan’s clients and their families, who have discovered bookings have allegedly not been handled appropriately and money not transferred to where it should be.”
Dittloff’s parents said they had not heard from their son since his disappearance “despite many attempts to contact him”.
Nine News reported that Jordan Dittloff recently stood down as president of the Geelong Young Liberals. Anyone with information about his current whereabouts is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Written by Peter Needham