Carnival Australia is meeting with key travel agent partners and the Australia Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) to address industry concern about plans to abolish the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF), a program that for many years has protected travel consumers against financial loss.
“As Australia’s largest cruise operator, we are concerned about the risk to public confidence in travel agents and the broader tourism industry if an appropriate compensation mechanism is not found to replace the TCF,” Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said.
The discussions with agents and AFTA are being held this week ahead of a meeting by state and federal Ministers for Consumer Affairs on December 7 where the Draft Travel Industry Transition Plan will be reviewed.
Under the Draft Plan, consumers could potentially rely on the ‘chargeback’ protections available with some credit cards, the provisions of an industry accreditation scheme or travel insurance.
“Simply scrapping the TCF without a suitable replacement would leave Australian travellers who book through travel agents with limited protection,” Ms Sherry said.
“It’s no secret the current TCF arrangement is onerous for travel agents so it’s timely to sit down and find a mechanism that addresses the current challenges and properly balances consumer risk.
Carnival Australia has made a formal submission to the Draft Travel Industry Transition Plan highlighting the risks if an appropriate compensation mechanism is not available to travellers.
“We deliberately highlighted some of the worst case scenarios should there be no provision to deal specifically and appropriately with the impact of travel agent insolvency,” Ms Sherry said.
However, she said this should not be misinterpreted as a plan to reduce engagement with valued travel agent partners.
“The extraordinary growth of the Australian cruise industry in recent years is a direct reflection of the work of the travel agent community who we consider to be partners in our business.”