ARTA Canada Calls for
National Travel Consumer Protection Plan
Federal Regulations and Oversight Needed
Toronto, 25 February 2010: Canada's Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA Canada) called today for the federal government to take the matter of travel consumer protection more seriously and to compel the federal Consumer Measures Committee (CMC) to produce an aggressive timeline to launch a national protection plan for travel consumers and a national regulatory regime for travel operators. ARTA Canada's call comes at the heels of the shut-down of Nova Scotia-based Go Travel South, a tour operator which ceased operations on 24 February 2010, and is reported to have ruined the travel plans of some 2,000 travellers.
"The CMC has been idling any interest or action on dealing with travel consumer protection since 2004. It's shameful that the federal government cannot move this issue forward so that travellers can be protected on a national basis. Both consumers and local retail travel agents suffer when these unscrutinized tour operators shut down, leaving consumers holding worthless tickets and tour arrangements and leaving travel dreams shattered. We simply cannot allow a tour company to set-up shop in a province without regulatory oversight of travel operators so as to avoid the higher standards of business operations and consumer protection afforded in BC, Ontario, and Québec", said ARTA Canada President Bruce Bishins, CTC.
Bishins, a former board member of Ontario's travel industry regulator, TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario), has been a long-time proponent of a national travel consumer protection plan, financed by an optional, small fee paid by travellers who wish such protection. A mandatory nationwide plan, financed by travel consumers as it is in Québec, is also a viable option.
"Credit card companies will soon reject being the fall guy for these failed travel companies. It's difficult enough for travel merchants to maintain processing agreements to facilitate consumers' desire to pay by credit card. If our industry and government do not take steps to protect consumers via other means, the entire industry will suffer a credit crunch of devastating consequences to industry stakeholders and consumers who wish to pay for their travel on a credit card", added Bishins.
ARTA Canada will continue its efforts to draw national attention to the need for a federal travel consumer protection plan and regulatory regime.
About ARTA Canada
ARTA Canada is the largest non-profit federally incorporated professional association of travel retailers in Canada, the members of which consist exclusively of travel agencies and travel agents. In addition to advocating fair and equitable treatment of travel consumers, ARTA Canada represents the commercial and strategic interests of its member travel agencies and travel agents in a variety of national and provincial domains including regulatory and legislative matters, automation, technology, sales and marketing, and distribution.
ARTA Canada is the strategic partner in Canada of the U.S.-based Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA). ARTA Canada is the Canadian member of UFTAA, the United Federation of Travel Agents' Associations. To join ARTA Canada, complete details and online membership application and secure payment are available on the ARTA Canada web site at www.artacanada.ca/join.