After an arduous three-year journey, the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO), and other concerned agency groups that have lobbied the Ontario government for updates to a Travel Industry Act welcomed good news.
Several counts relating to the administrative burden on agencies would be updated, the Ontario government announced Tuesday. These include the removal of the Audited Financial Statements and Review Engagement requirements for smaller registrants (under $2M) during this critical time.
In their advisory, the Ontario government stated that they recognize the extraordinary nature of the current situation of the COVID-19 outbreak and relief is being provided for travel agents and wholesalers during this financially difficult period.
There was also the welcome relief under Section 46 which allows registrants to only provide a travel voucher or credit instead of a refund – and expanding the coverage under the Travel Industry Compensation Fund for consumer claims involving vouchers – and in the event of a registrant failure, to consider claims by consumers holding future travel vouchers to be eligible for claims on the Fund.
However, what could be deemed as the most significant sticking point was ignored. The Travel Industry Act has been called out for being unduly burdensome financially to travel agencies, especially compared to other provinces such as Quebec, who have adopted a model where consumers, who are the biggest beneficiaries, assume the cost.
“ACTA remains very concerned with the funding model of the Travel Industry Consumer Compensation Fund,” said Wendy Paradis, president of ACTA. “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of the significantly inadequate Fund, and as such, ACTA will continue to lobby for recommended changes for the benefit of Ontario Travel Agencies, and the consumers they represent.”