ARTA Canada to Support
a Hudak PC Government in Ontario
Liberals Have Marginalized Travel Agencies
and are Tone-Deaf to Travel and Tourism
Toronto, 07 September 2011: Canada's Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA Canada) announced today that it will do all possible to bring about a change in Ontario's Government, throwing its full support to the PC Party of Ontario and its leader Tim Hudak. As a matter of policy, ARTA Canada does not normally involve itself in or endorse political action, however, the negative and oppressive impact of Ontario's Liberal Government on the travel agency sector and travel and tourism has compelled the association to make an exception.
There are more than 2,100 retail travel agencies in Ontario, including the vast majority of the 27,000 people who are authorized by the Province to sell retail travel services and products to the public.
"The McGuinty Liberal Government has been anti-business and anti-consumer in its cavalier, detached, and dismissive treatment of the travel agency community and travel consumers. We simply cannot afford to have a continuation of the current Liberal Government legislative and regulatory landscape that has been so ineffective in its oversight of protecting travel consumers, supporting travel businesses, and improving the competitiveness of Ontario tourism. It's time for a change in Ontario, and Ontario's PC Party and Tim Hudak are best able to bring about these much needed reforms", said ARTA Canada President Bruce Bishins, CTC.
ARTA Canada cited years of Liberal Government mismanagement and lack of diligent oversight of Ontario's travel regulations, including allowing the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) to operate a fiefdom of self-interest, self-protectionism, and self-enrichment at the expense of hardworking travel agencies and the traveling public. McGuinty's Ministry of Consumer Services (MCS) has repeatedly ignored the pleas of travel agencies to bring about democratic reforms at TICO, including restructuring the TICO board to put an end to biased and autocratic rule. From travel consumers who had their trips ruined to travel agencies which had their fees increased and voices extinguished, MCS has done little to assure proper leadership and governance at TICO to meet its responsibilities.
Under the Liberal Government's watch, a mandate for more ministerial designees to the TICO board languished without appointment, including an unwillingness to continue a renewed term of service but later reappointing the same designee who now serves as TICO's chair, and an unprecedented drain of millions of dollars from travel agencies to pay for TICO's failure to properly scrutinize and regulate travel companies which did not provide travel services paid for by consumers.
"Every attempt to seek assistance, equitable reforms, and fair treatment for travel agencies and their clients at TICO has been ignored by MCS. It's hard to understand why MCS is paid more than $100 thousand annually to oversee TICO, that and all TICO's funds coming entirely from travel agencies and travel wholesalers, when the Ministry has been so derelict in its responsibility for effective legislation and regulations", added Bishins.
By contrast, ARTA Canada's approach to Ontario PC Party MPPs, particularly Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton), Julia Munro (York-Simcoe), Ted Arnott (Wellington-Halton Hills), and Frank Klees (Newmarket—Aurora) has been extremely helpful in advancing travel agency and travel consumer concerns to the floor of the Ontario Legislature, several times. ARTA Canada is grateful to these Ontario PC Party MPPs for the ultimate ignominy of the travel protection portfolio of Liberal Minister Harinder Takhar and a shaming of the frequent revolving door succession of other Ministers responsible for TICO at the Ministry of Government Services and MCS.
Ontario tourism has suffered at the hands of the Liberal Government with a 13% HST on domestic air transportation originating in the Province, keeping air travel and other tourism costs out of reach for many Ontarians who would otherwise visit Ontario's many attractive and feature-rich destinations, not to mention stimulating and making Ontario's travel sector more competitive as a catalyst for Canada's national tourism interests.
In 2008, total tourism receipts in Ontario reached over $22 billion. Tourism in Ontario employs over 300,000 and is the largest single employer of young workers. Every $1 million spent by tourists creates 14 jobs and generates $553,400 in wages and salaries. Ontario’s travel deficit was $2.7 billion in Q1 2011, an increase of 3.8% from Q1 2010.
"We need to do all possible to leverage our business sector and assure that not only is the retail travel agency community strengthened, but that Ontario tourism grows in our capable hands. A Hudak Government is our best chance of achieving these important objectives", said Bishins.
ARTA Canada will launch a series of initiatives and support for the PC Party of Ontario now that the election campaign is underway.
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.