A draft transition plan presented by the Consumer Affairs Ministers to regulate travel agents across Australia will be agreed upon by the end of this year.
The draft transition plan comes over after a three and a half year review process by Consumer Affairs Ministers in the travel and trade related market.
AFTA CEO Jayson Westbury said it was a historic day, reaching an agreement to implement new arrangements for the way Australian travel agencies are regulated, with Australian consumers also benefiting from a clearer consumer protection regime.
Consumers will now have a clear understanding of their protection when dealing with travel agents with the new Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and that when dealing with a travel agent they should make sure it is an Australian company, Mr Westbury said.
Despite needing some fine tuning, Mr Westbury said the draft transition plan is good news for Australian travel agents who will have been waiting for a clearer future.
The ministers noted the current arrangements are not satisfactory as only about a third of affected consumers have any redress under the scheme, with more money spent on the scheme administration than being paid out to consumers.
There have been concerns with the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) coverage and relevance in the market for consumer protection as the ministers note that that in the absence of an agreed transition plan, they would withdraw from the TCF, making it no may no longer viable.
Australian travel agents have for a while experienced an imbalance and an unfair burden competing in a global and borderless market place with non-Australian internet travel sellers selling to Australians without the same significant level of regulation.
To finally have an outcome after over three years of waiting for review considerations and deliberations by the government bureaucrats and ministers is refreshing for those in the travel industry.
This provides a pathway of certainty to the 2800 travel agent businesses in Australia and confirms a future for the 35,000 Australians directly employed by travel agents around the country, the CEO announced.
AFTA looks forward to the final arrangements to be decided at the end of this year and implemented to ensure the development of all stakeholders involved.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W