Ontario All-In ITC Price Advertising Rules Set To Move Forward

Open Jaw
by Bruce Parkinson

As of 01JAN17, Ontario consumers won’t need a calculator to figure out the price of an ITC package if proposed amendments to the province’s Travel Industry Act go forward as expected.

The move has been recommended to the Ministry of Government & Consumer Services by the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, based on feedback from travellers, travel agents and even many of the wholesalers that would be affected by the change.

It would require all businesses registered under TIA to display the total price of a travel package, including all taxes, fees, levies and other charges when advertising travel services.

TICO President & CEO Richard Smart says all-in pricing will be good for the industry’s perception among consumers. “We’ve received several consumer complaints with regard to package pricing – for example trips advertised at $399 that come with an additional $569 in taxes and fees. Consumers are losing confidence in the travel industry, which is understandable.”

Smart says “most good wholesalers” are very much in support of the proposed change.

Other proposed amendments to the act include an exemption from Travel Industry Act requirements for Ontario businesses that exclusively offer 1 day tours, and a realignment of filing deadlines for trip completion claims against the Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund.

Stemming from the Conquest failure, where some Canadians stranded by the operator were forced to pay exorbitant hotel rates and airfares to complete their vacation, the amended regulation would give travellers up to 6 months to file a trip completion claim vs. the current 3 months.

TICO is proposing an increase to the Compensation Fund contribution rates from $0.15 per $1,000 in travel sales to $0.25 effective 01JUL16. Smart says the increase is necessary to keep the fund above $20 million, which TICO considers an appropriate level to provide Ontario consumers with adequate protection.

Smart says the increase is necessary because “the complexity of the business has increased significantly,” while fewer registrants have translated into lower revenues.

Some registrants aren’t happy about the price increase, Smart acknowledges, which he calls “a reflection of the business environment they’re feeling.” But he points out that previously scheduled contribution increases were cancelled in 2013 and 2014, as revenues were enough to maintain the fund at an acceptable level.

“We looked at the next 3 yr. business plan and realized the increase would be required,” Smart says. He pointed out that the increase would put the required contribution at the same level it was in 2001. “Not many businesses can say that their fees are what they were 15 years ago,” Smart says.

With the increase, an agency with $2 million in sales would see its annual contributions rise from under $300 per year to under $500.

Marnie - March 29, 2016 @ 17:03
once again the travel agents are being held hostage by TICO who is doing as little as possible and making us pay as much as possible for the privilege of being in Ontario!! Salaries have gone up for everyone at TICO but the agencies, who are being squeezed by everyone from the suppliers; to the consumers and now by TICO too... where will it end? They also want to let one day tour operators to not have to comply with TICO which will open up another "dog's breakfast" of problems...they are the ones scamming the public and yet we have to comply no matter what, if we do one day trips...they get of "scot free" and we just pay, pay, pay!!! Where is our increase in revenue...I can only see an major drop in revenue for the agencies, over the next few years... and you wonder why people are complaining??

Darren Swidler - March 29, 2016 @ 09:03
If TICO wants to look back at 2001 then it seems only fair to look at TICO's operating expenses in that year when there were 3,055 registrants and 20 TICO employees. In 2001, salaries and benefits were $814,788 vs $1,880,990 today an increase of more than $1,000,000! Total operating expenses have almost doubled from $2,247,902 in 2001 to $4,239,070 in 2015. 65% of these operating expenses are then being removed from the restricted compensation fund resulting in the problem that TICO is now in and unfortunately hard-working registrants now have to bail them out with yet another fee increase.

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