The Council of Australia Tour Operators (CATO) held their 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday 24 June as the organisation sought member agreement on organizational reform and the exploration of new directions to support its members as part of a more sustainable travel industry.
Brett Jardine, Managing Director, CATO said, “In times of adversity, opportunities arise. One positive outcome of COVID was the time our Board had to discuss, plan and develop solutions to arising issues.”
CATO members voted unanimously to support a motion to change the associations structure from a statebased model to a federal-based model as a not-for-profit Company Limited by Guarantee. This will include a new constitution which will include a formal CATO Member Code of Conduct and CATO Member Advertising Code of Conduct.
Jardine said, “Votes received were 100% supportive of the motion to change and evolution under a structure that better reflects CATO’s status as a national body and enable it to move forward with progressive initiatives. As part of these changes CATO will develop an external independent accreditation scheme, fitfor-purpose, for the land supply sector. CATO members were also updated on the status of investigations into the development of exclusive insurance products, aimed at developing greater agent support and consumer confidence when booking travel product with CATO members.”
CATO’s proposed changes will engage with and encourage wider participation from all tour operators and wholesalers nationally with a view to seeking best practice and greater consistency across all participants. It will continue to collaborate closely with other industry bodies including AFTA, CLIA, ATEC and ACCI in areas of mutual benefit. CATO’s primary charter is to support its members and to create a more sustainable tourism industry, in this new era and post the COVID 19 pandemic.
The CATO AGM also revealed that the growing industry body had recorded a surplus of $76,000 with a significant portion of excess funds being used to support members via discounted 2022 membership renewals.
Jardine confirmed that membership retention for 2022 reached an impressive 94% with total member numbers increasing by 20% across all categories to a total of 180.
Voting of Board Members was concluded, and Dennis Bunnik (Bunnik Travel Group) was re-elected as Chairman unopposed and will continue in this capacity for two years.
The board members voted onto the board for the next term include Brett Mitchell (Intrepid Travel Group), Julie King (Julie King & Associates) and James O’Donnell (The Travel Corporation). Individuals that are currently mid-term on the CATO Board include - Vice Chair: Liz Anderson (Sundowners Overland), and Board Members: Lisa Pagotto (Crooked Compass); Brad McDonnell (Entire Travel Group); Peter Douglas (Globus Family of Brands); David Walker (Sno'n'Ski); Aaron Zoanetti (Pointon Partners).
Bunnik said, “I look forward to working with the appointed Board across our four pillars in another challenging year ahead, in order to implement significant, positive and much needed changes to our industry.
I would also like to acknowledge Martin Edwards (ex-Bench Africa) and Amanda McCann (Collette) who ended their term on the Board and thank them for their many years of contribution to CATO.”