The Council of Australia Tour Operators (CATO) Managing Director, Brett Jardine and Chairman, Dennis Bunnik last week met with Federal Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham at his Adelaide office.
As Minister of Finance, Minister of Trade, Tourism & Investment and Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Birmingham is one of Australia’s most senior politicians, and CATO seized the opportunity to provide the Senator with in-depth information on the complexity and challenges of the travel industry ecosystem.
Senator Birmingham was appreciative of the extensive briefing as the government continues to consider and develop industry specific support programs.
Senator Birmingham acknowledged CATO’s efforts as an industry body in liaising with government departments including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT).
CATO updated the Senator on its broad engagement across the industry locally and overseas, and its work with the travel insurance sector in preparation for the post-COVID recovery.
The Senator commended CATO for its proactive approach using this crisis as a catalyst, to ensure members and the broader travel industry have a long-term sustainable future.
Lengthy discussion focused on the structure of Australia’s outbound travel industry and the role CATO members take to invest in, develop, market, distribute and deliver product that is sold primarily through retail travel agents.
CATO highlighted with Senator Birmingham the position of the land-supply sector that underpins 40,000 travel industry jobs here in Australia, that subsequently plays an integral role in the success of aviation into and out of Australia, that is 100% complimentary to Australia’s inbound tourism sector and delivers AU$20 billion in economic impact to this country.
CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine advised Senator Birmingham that, “the majority of product developed by our sector is distributed through retail travel agencies, and CATO members will play a vital role in enabling Australians to travel again safely once the borders reopen.”
Jardine added, “Not only are our member’s products sold by travel agents for Australians to experience holidays all over the world, CATO members are also heavily invested in domestic holidays that have a significant positive economic impact on regional Australia, and will be first to market, investing in product and reemploying staff as we emerge from COVID.”
As part of discussions with Senator Birmingham, Jardine confirmed that CATO members directly support the retail travel sector, funnelling more than AU$1.25 billion via commissions, incentives, brochure printing/distribution, conference support and educational trips for travel agents.
CATO stressed the importance of the continuation of JobKeeper at higher rates for those industries that remain 85%-100% down due to the closure of borders. Furthermore, Jardine confirmed that CATO is actively supporting the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) in their efforts to secure government funding via grants and back to business loans for the industry to ensure ongoing collaboration as we look to inspire Australians to travel again post-COVID.
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