Travel Agents’ Regulations To Be Reformed

Travel Agents’ Regulations To Be Reformed

Victoria Minister for Consumer Affairs Michael O’Brien

Victoria To Move Forward With Travel Industry Reform

Victor P Taffa

Travel agents’ regulation will be reformed following the agreement of the majority of Australian Governments, Minister for Consumer Affairs Michael O’Brien announced today.

As a result of the vote at today’s COAG Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs meeting, the national Travel Industry Transition Plan will be implemented.

“While a harmonised approach to implementing the plan would have been an ideal outcome, sufficient support exists across the States and Territories to move forward with implementing the key recommendations.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“Reforming the regulatory framework of the travel agent industry is long overdue and is something Victoria has been championing.”

“The old framework was designed in 1986 before the internet was invented. It is out of date and ignores the reality of how consumers today choose to purchase travel and accommodation services.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“Notwithstanding the position of Western and South Australia the majority of jurisdictions agreed to move ahead with this new structure to ensure the industry is regulated in a more effective manner.”

“I thank New South Wales for its joint leadership throughout this process, and the ongoing feedback and support provided by other jurisdictions during the development of the Plan. I also thank the Commonwealth Treasury for its foundational work.” Mr. O’Brien said.

The Travel Industry Transition Plan recommends:

  • A staged phasing out of the existing National Scheme for travel agents, commencing with the removal of prudential supervision, followed by the repeal of travel agents’ legislation;
  • Reliance on the Australian Consumer Law and other generic incorporation laws, as well as industry-led regulatory mechanisms and market based remedies such as credit card charge-backs to protect consumers;
  • Winding up the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) and dedicating a proportion of remaining reserve funds to a range of purposes, including but not limited to:
  •  Stakeholder communication and education initiatives;
  • A one-off grant for consumer research and advocacy purposes;
  • A one-off grant to fund development of an industry-led accreditation scheme by a national working party of government, industry and consumer representatives;
  • Paying out any remaining compensation claims and the TCF’s fees for undertaking legal action relating to these claims.

The Transition Plan was developed over a lengthy period, taking into account two independent cost/benefit analyses, two rounds of public consultation and meetings with consumer and industry stakeholders.