The Travel Industry Council of Ontario’s (TICO’s) funding framework and fee review consultations have closed.
But that doesn’t mean the conversation is over.
The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies and Travel Advisors (ACTA), an outspoken critic of TICO’s proposed funding framework and fee review, is calling on its Ontario members to advocate to the provincial government to “finally fix this 40-year-old legislation” and its regulations, “which in no way reflect the environment of the Ontario travel industry today.”
The legislation in question is the Travel Industry Act (TIA), a piece of consumer protection regulation that was designed in the 1970s in an era of a cash and cheque economy.
As Jean Hébert, executive director of the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) – an ACTA partner – pointed out in an open letter earlier this month, “over 90 per cent of transactions [today] are using credit cards or other forms of e-commerce.”
“We can no longer be the only ones to bear the brunt of an inadequate, outdated, and costly system,” Hébert wrote, referring to the TIA.
ACTA has publicly and repeatedly stated that TICO’s funding model proposals, which were announced in October, are “essentially cosmetic changes – and simply band-aids on a broken system.”
“The proposed funding framework is not based on the risk profile of the registrant, and the consumer is not legislated to contribute, leaving the burden squarely on the shoulders of Ontario travel agencies and tour operators,” ACTA said in a press release on Tuesday (Nov. 14).
Five key proposals
TICO has five key proposals. They include:
1. Decreasing Compensation Fund payments to $0.05/$1,000 from $0.25/$1,000 of Ontario Gross Sales.
2. Removing non-contributing end-supplier coverage (airlines and cruise lines) from the Compensation Fund, subject to government consideration and decision-making.
3. Doubling the maximum Compensation Fund payment per person to $10,000 from $5,000 for consumers, subject to government consideration and decision-making.
4. Recalibrating registrant renewal fees, with modernized and more equitable fee bands.
5. Instituting new late filing fees to encourage timely submission of required documentation and ensure efficient processing.
TICO’s CEO Richard Smart says the organization was mandated to submit a proposal to the government before beginning its consultation process.
Speaking with trade media last month, Smart said all feedback about its proposals will be compiled into a document and shared with TICO’s board of directors and then the ministry, which he estimates will take place before the end of the year.
“We’re committed to sharing the good, the bad and the ugly – hopefully more good than bad,” said Smart.
ACTA and CATO, however, have criticized the process – notably, TICO’s alleged lack of transparency, and the financial burden the current and proposed regulation places on registrants.
“The window to change the system is open now and it could be years before it is opened again,” ACTA said Tuesday.
Letter writing campaign
To help get its message across, ACTA has produced a “quick and easy template” that Ontario registrants can use to “send an impactful letter to their Member of Provincial Parliament with copies to the Premier and key Cabinet Ministers.”
Click here to activate the template.
In addition, ACTA Ontario members are encouraged to share their story and support the need for a modernized, relevant, and fair Ontario Travel Industry Act by sending a personal letter to their MPP.
“This is a very powerful way to connect with decision makers,” ACTA said.
ACTA Members are encouraged to do so and share a copy with ACTA at email@example.com.
The deadline to submit letters, both auto-generated and personal, is Monday, November 27, 2023.
ACTA said it will be meeting with senior Ontario government officials on November 30, 2023, and member’s letters will support ACTA’s message in preparation for its government meetings.