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Saturday,  April 20, 2024 9:58 PM 

ACITA determined to “change” industry, receives “helpful” words from Minister Alghabra

ACITA determined to “change” industry, receives “helpful” words from Minister Alghabra
ACITA met with Transport Minister Omar Alghabra on Wednesday (Feb. 8). (Twitter/@OmarAlghabra)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

The Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA) had a virtual meeting with Transport Minister Omar Alghabra on Wednesday (Feb. 8) as the group seeks to change practices and policies in the travel industry – a sector that it says has always been based on the “status quo.”

“Our industry has changed, our business models have changed, our suppliers also need to change,” ACITA told PAX in an emailed statement late Wednesday night.

“We are responsible for 60 to 70 per cent of the business for a majority of our suppliers and feel there must be a way to have mutual respect as valued partners.”

Minister Alghabra, who publicly supported commission protections for travel advisors in April 2021 when Ottawa was negotiating COVID relief agreements with Canada’s airlines, was “extremely helpful” in suggesting possible avenues ACITA could take.

The volunteer-run, grassroots group, which formed in June of 2020, didn’t share the specifics of Alghabra’s advice, but said to “stay tuned.”

Continuing “important conversations”

Wednesday’s meeting was attended by the ACITA management team, which includes travel advisors Nancy Wilson, Brenda Slater, Heather Kearns, Lynda Dennis, Michelle Gaudet and Bronwen Hill.

“The meeting with the Honourable Minister Alghabra came about due to our determination to maintain relationships and continue important conversations with representatives in all levels of government,” ACITA said in a group statement.

“The Minister of Transport has maintained important communication with our sector, in understanding the unique challenges within the sector, and the vital role travel advisors play in the tourism industry, and specifically how it relates to the Transportation portfolio.”  

More than just a storm

ACITA said Minister Alghabra was “very well aware” of the tremendous impact the weather-related “ordeal” (as he referred to it) that occurred during the winter holiday travel season had on travel businesses.

While the Minister didn’t have immediate solutions to the unique challenges faced by travel advisors, he did commit to being available to ACITA to listen to their innovative ideas and creative solutions, and help however he can, the group said.

“He also recognized that there are more issues than just one weather event hindering our sector from recovery,” ACITA said. “So, there was some good discussion in that regard.”

“We also discussed the ongoing discussions being had surrounding about changes to air passenger rights.”

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra highlighted his discussion with ACITA on his Twitter account on Wednesday (Feb. 8). (Twitter/@OmarAlghabra)

Last week, ACITA met with Xavier Barsalou-Duval, vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, to discuss similar issues.

“While it may seem like we’ve been quiet at ACITA, we continue to keep in contact with our supporters in government, working towards a plan to protect all travel advisors and travel agencies from commission recalls for work we’ve completed,” the advocacy group said.

Minister Alghabra took to Twitter on Wednesday to comment on the “interesting conversation” he had ACITA.

“I had an interesting conversation with the @ACITACANADA Board, who represent independent travel advisors across the country, to discuss the need for a post-pandemic recovery for all the different workers in the sector,” Alghabra wrote. “Travel advisors are important to our economy and for tourism.”

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