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Monday,  July 22, 2024   4:32 PM
TICO registrants weigh in on Travel Industry Act review
Richard Smart, president & CEO, TICO

Calls for more consumer buy-in to support TICO’s Compensation Fund and the requirement for businesses based out-of-province to follow TICO regulations were among the topics of discussion during the organization’s latest open forum regarding the review of the Travel Industry Act of Ontario.

The forum drew a sizable crowd of travel industry members to TICO’s Mississauga headquarters yesterday (Jan. 24), eager to weigh in on the review by the provincial government which is currently underway. According to TICO president & CEO Richard Smart, the review of the Act is expected to be completed sometime in the fall.

Among the suggestions made during the session were:

  • Investigating the funding of TICO’s Compensation Fund through consumer payments;
  • In addition to registering as a either a retailer or wholesaler, the creation of a third category for businesses encompassing both models;
  • A requirement for individual travel agent registration under TICO;
  • Requiring registration from hotels as well as businesses operating under the sharing economy model such as Airbnb;
  • The establishment of a formal disciplinary process and/or code of conduct for TICO members;
  • The requirement of registrants to regularly update their knowledge and education of the travel industry.

During the forum, Smart also floated the idea of the elimination of TICO’s Compensation Fund, currently valued at $22 million, citing a similar move in Australia. The idea received a lukewarm response from those in attendance; Smart told PAX that the “vast majority” of registrants surveyed believe “there is a role for the Fund to play.

“We’ve been doing a lot of jurisdictional scans of other provinces and countries and we were very interested in Australia, which abolished their fund entirely,” he said. “We’re taking a hard look at whether that’s a model which is supported by industry.”

As for consumer buy-in to support the Fund, Smart said that a survey in recent years indicated there was indeed a degree of support from the public for a consumer-funded model.

“Consumers were willing to pay and share that burden with registrants, but there is a limit to how much they would be willing to pay,” Smart said, adding that such a model would be based on a nominal fee. “We’re looking to get a more current pulse from consumers and over the next six weeks we hope to accomplish that.”

TICO is currently wrapping up its series of forums with dates in London on Jan. 26 and Cambridge/Kitchener on Feb. 8. These will be followed by a series of public consultations on the review of the Act (originally drafted in the 1970s) beginning next month.

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