WA travel industry deregulated
- Licensing scheme for travel agents ends
- Travel Compensation Fund being wound down
- New industry accreditation scheme to protect customers
Western Australia’s licensing system for travel agents ceases on 8 October 2014, in line with the national deregulation of the travel industry.
The move comes at a time when travellers are increasingly buying travel online directly from airlines and accommodation providers, and through interstate and international agents.
Commerce Minister Michael Mischin said while the WA Government did not originally support total deregulation of the Australian travel industry, it could not be the only State with a stand-alone licensing and consumer compensation scheme.
“This would have put travel agents here at a distinct competitive disadvantage to their interstate and overseas counterparts, for little or no benefit to customers,” Mr Mischin said.
The Minister said consumers were still protected under Australian Consumer Law for travel transactions.
“Under Australian Consumer Law, travel services must be as described or advertised and an agent must operate with an acceptable level of skill, otherwise the customer is entitled to a refund, compensation or to have the service provided again,” he said.
More than 125 business premises in WA have signed on to a new industry-led accreditation scheme, known as ATAS, through the Australian Federation of Travel Agents. It has an industry Code of Conduct which includes complaint handling processes.
“These initiatives should promote and maintain professional standards,” Mr Mischin said
Consumers who want advice or have complaints about travel services should contact the Consumer Protection division of the Department of Commerce on 1300 30 40 54.
The reform means the Travel Compensation Fund, a compulsory fund for travel agents, is only accepting consumer claims for travel paid for before 1 July 2014 and will be wound down by late 2015.
- The Travel Agents Amendment and Expiry Act 2014 comes into effect on 8 October 2014
- Prior to the reforms, there were 361 licensed travel agents in WA
- CHOICE will run a Consumer Travel Hub project over the next few years to identify emerging travel market issues and customer needs post-deregulation. The research will be used to provide information and advocacy for Australian consumers
- A national education campaign called Pack Some Peace of Mind is under way (campaign site closed February 2015).
- More information at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/travel or search for an accredited travel agent at www.atas.com.au
Media contact: Rosalie Cobai - 6552 5600 or 0408 956 580
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