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TravelManagers ATAS Warnings Prove Reality with More Travel Agency Closures

April 24, 2014 Mobile travel consulting No Comments Email Email

TravelManagers concerns reached an all-time high today regarding the Australian Federation of Travel Agents’ (AFTA) Australian Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS)  with the publication on Monday of the Travel Compensation Fund’s (TCF) latest termination notice announcing a further five outlets have had their TCF membership terminated due to consumer claims.

TravelManagers maintain that all ATAS members should be required to have Travel Intermediary Insolvency Insurance to offer consumer protection.

The five Queensland based outlets terminated on 12 March, are all part of Tribal Travel who has previously had five outlets terminated on 17 February. This now makes a total of three agents with twelve outlets in five states failing to properly account to suppliers for monies received from customers since 01 January. Figures aren’t currently available regarding the quantum of claims for 2013 and 2014; however, for 2012 which is latest figures available 1,299 consumer claims were paid out totaling $4,185,035.

“Today’s announcement of further travel agent closures across Australia, due to their failure to properly account to suppliers for monies received from customers, further highlights the real concerns for consumer protection and the importance of getting it right with ATAS. As from 01 July without mandatory Travel Intermediary Insolvency Insurance, the potential for a significant number of clients to be adversely affected increases dramatically,” says TravelManagers’ Chairman, Barry Mayo.

Mayo suggests there is benefit in looking at how overseas bonding agents in particular the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) look to protect the consumer from travel agent collapse.

“The current regime in New Zealand under the TAANZ bonding scheme is designed to provide consumers with an assurance that if they deal with a TAANZ member they will at least receive some protection against the travel agents’ failure to properly account to suppliers or other intermediaries for monies received from customers for that purpose. Whilst there is no legal requirement for travel agents to offer financial protection for their customers in Britain ABTA insists on it being a condition for ABTA membership. TravelManagers strongly believes AFTA needs to ensure it does make Travel Agent Insolvency Insurance a mandatory requirement for ATAS accreditation,” says Mayo.

State and territory licensing of travel agents will cease to exist from 30 June 2014. TravelManagers has an email address atas@travelmanagers.com.au and encourages active participation on the pros and cons of ATAS as presently proposed.

“We implore the travel agent community to speak out and offer more visible support as real examples of the scheme’s shortcomings prove to be a chilling reminder of what the future may hold for Australian travel agents without ATAS imposing mandatory insolvency insurance for members. Time is running out so now is the time to act,” says Mayo. 

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