The industry’s reputation is at risk, according to the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO), which says misleading ads are hurting tourism’s image among consumers.

CATO’s Chairman, Dennis Bunnik, said at the group’s recent AGM that disingenuous discounts by high-profile travel industry disruptors are undermining the industry’s credibility not to mention, taking away business and revenue from genuine Travel Agents.

He told attendees that although competition is important in the market, there is an issue with “deceptive and misleading conduct”.

“I am specifically talking about ‘typically’ or ‘valued at’ pricing which is often so unrealistic it is laughable.”

Dennis Bunnik, CATO Chairman

“We’re not here to stop competition. Competition is good. Competition grows the market, keeps us all on our toes and encourages us to do better,” he continued.

“However, there is an issue when that competition is engaged in deceptive and misleading conduct, especially around advertising and the practice of encouraging positive reviews through incentives.

“Our aim is simply to ensure everybody adheres to ACCC advertising ethics and guidelines as required under Australian Consumer Law.”

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CATO recently held a round-table discussion with AFTA to see how it can tackle this issue and will continue to work with the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) in this area.

Bunnik called on CATO members to show leadership in supporting an industry-led approach to ethical advertising. He also highlighted the need for all travel intermediaries to adhere to Australian Competition and Advertising guidelines that are being flaunted by a number of high-profile businesses.

“I doubt many individual Travel Agents realise exactly how much they are losing to clients booking direct with the disrupters.”

Dennis Bunnik, CATO Chairman

Accordingly, CATO plans to continue to develop and promote the CATO brand and demonstrate to both Travel Agents and the public the benefits of dealing with a CATO member business.

 

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