ARTA Canada Submits Comments on
Proposed Manitoba Travel Consumer Protection Initiative
Adopting Industry Best Practices and Avoiding Provincial Worst Policies
Will be Key to a Successful Manitoba Travel Consumer Protection Regime
Toronto, 27 June 2011: Canada's Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA Canada) advised today that it completed a consultation with its Manitoba members regarding proposed travel consumer protection in the Province and submitted a consolidated response to the Manitoba Government in accordance with a public consultation on the matter.
Some of the key aspects of the submission included:
Manitoba should consult with travel agency associations (such as ARTA Canada) familiar with TICO (Ontario), OPC (Québec), and CPBC (British Columbia) to analyze and evaluate best and worst practices among these provincial regulators.
Consumer protection should be afforded to all consumers, regardless of location, provided that they have purchased travel from a duly registered Manitoba travel business.
The operations, policies, and implementation of any travel consumer protection regime must take into consideration the reasonableness of policies imposed on the industry, along with the benefits provided to consumers. Policies should be transparent, fully discussed with the industry, and not devised behind closed-doors.
Registration fees should take into account the thin margins present in the travel agency industry; keeping fees affordable for Registrants.
ARTA Canada fully supports a consumer-paid fee paid into a compensation fund to provide financial protection. Québec (OPC) currently has a consumer fee of $3.50 per $1000.00 of travel purchased, albeit this may not be enough to establish the necessary base funding to start a compensation fund in Manitoba. ARTA Canada would be more inclined to support $5.00 per $1000.00 until such time as a fund could be reasonably financed.
ARTA Canada believes that travel products should be accurately described, and all prices stated honestly and with full disclosure. Because airlines and other end-suppliers in Canada do not advertise "all-inclusive pricing" per se (albeit this has now become a statutory requirement in the USA), Manitoba Registrants should not be forced to provide "all-inclusive pricing" provided that taxes, fees, charges, and any other cost attributed to the purchase are fully disclosed and reasonably visible during the sale and at the time of final purchase.
ARTA Canada feels that there should be no differentiation among the various distribution channels via which travel could be purchased. So long as a company evidences an actual presence (and legal incorporation) in Manitoba, regardless of a physical or virtual (Internet) distribution, the travel company should be required to become a Registrant.
"Manitoba seems to be going about the process of building a travel consumer protection regime quite equitably by including all stakeholders, especially the travel industry. We are very pleased that an ARTA Canada Manitoba member has been a central figure in moving the proposed regulatory framework further along", said ARTA Canada President Bruce Bishins, CTC.
ARTA Canada will continue to provide input and work with Manitoba and travel industry representatives in crafting a viable, effective, and reasonable travel consumer protection program.
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). For complete details about ARTA Canada's new $99 membership campaign or to join ARTA Canada, including secure payment on our web site, please visit www.artacanada.ca/join.