ONE thing is for sure - ATAS is doing the job it was designed to do by presenting consumers and trade with a clear difference between travel businesses that put themselves forward for accreditation, and those that don’t.
The numbers are strong, and as at last year 1,400 travel businesses representing some 2,800 locations nationally have elected to participate in the scheme. This is important for two reasons. The first is that these businesses have met the criteria agreed by industry, for industry, and have met the standards that have been applied. The second, and equally important point, is that these businesses have elected to support their own industry body to ensure that AFTA remains relevant, robust and capable of responding to the many things that government and other stakeholders may choose to inflict upon travel businesses in Australia.
In relation to complaints, the ATAS Code of Conduct report shows that in 2018 AFTA received 120 more complaints than in 2017, and more than double that was received in 2016. While this may be a worry for industry, we believe that this is a reflection of awareness as consumers become more informed of the scheme and the way in which the scheme can assist to mediate complaints without the need for legal intervention or expensive cases in the Administrative Tribunals around the country - a true and valuable benefit of being an ATAS participant.
As the wake of the Banking Royal Commission comes into force and the government considers what to do with the findings, rumblings circle about whether travel agents should be in some way included in this mire of fall out, and AFTA strongly believes that it should not be inflicted with more red tape and rules when it relates to commissions. The NSW Government has taken the first step and has passed legislation upon which those businesses who earn a commission may have to disclose this to consumers.
AFTA has made a strong case for why this should not include travel agents and the submission can be found HERE. The point being, that the way a travel agent earns its income is very different to financial planners, real estate agents and other true commission-based industries. The AFTA submission explains this in full detail. So the link between participating in the industry body by way of ATAS and the advocacy work that AFTA takes on behalf of all travel business is very clear, which is why those who are not yet ATAS accredited should take another look and join today.
The more united travel intermediaries are, the better chance we have as a force for good to make a difference and ensure that the rules of the land remain fit for purpose and reasonable.