ACTA Summit: Ontario Agencies Urged To ACT On High Cost Of Regulation

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

WendyParadis

ACTA says it has the ear of the Ontario government, but it needs the help of Ontario-registered travel businesses to make some noise.

The industry association is asking members to take part in a letter-writing campaign to local MPPs, alerting them to a series of challenges they face due to outdated, ineffective and disproportionately costly regulation. It has set a deadline date of 29NOV for submission of letters.

According to ACTA, Ontario is the most expensive province in Canada to run a travel agency, due to the requirements of the Ontario Travel Industry Act (TIA) and the industry-funded Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund.

Since 2017, the industry association has been lobbying for changes to Ontario legislation that would reduce the financial burden on registrants. In fall 2018, ACTA and the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) hired a lobbyist to get the attention of the government. 

A team of ACTA and CATO senior leaders have been actively meeting with government officials since early this year. They now believe it is time to strike while the iron is hot. 

“It is critical they are inundated by letters,” said ACTA President & CEO Wendy Paradis at this week’s Canadian Travel Industry Leadership Summit in Toronto. “The Minister and MPPs need to know this is a critical issue.”

ACTA and CATO want the Ontario government to change costly financial reporting requirements for registered travel businesses and shift the Travel Industry Compensation Fund to a consumer-funded model, eliminating industry contribution requirements. 

“Failure to act will continue to put Ontario travel companies at a disadvantage due to these financial and administrative burdens and will jeopardize jobs in an extremely competitive industry with increasingly smaller margins,” reads part of a template letter available on ACTA’s website.

ACTA says the financial reporting requirements imposed on travel agencies by the TIA are costly and unnecessary. It believes the Compensation Fund is inadequate for its purpose and offers little meaningful protection to Ontario consumers in its current form. It also says the bulk of fees paid by Ontario registrants are not going into the Fund, but are being used to sustain the increasing cost of operations of industry regulator the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO).

“The message to every government official has been clear – the status quo in Ontario is not effective or sustainable and places an unfair burden on Ontario travel companies, as well as offering very little meaningful protection to Ontario consumers,” ACTA says.

The template letter includes a clear set of arguments on the issues, but ACTA hopes members will use it as a base and include their own thoughts on how legislation impacts their specific business. It suggests letters be sent to the local MPP where travel businesses are based – a list can be found here.

ACTA and CATO are also seeking donations to cover the cost of the lobby efforts – over $42,000 to date. They have created an ‘Advocacy Fund’ and contributions can be made here.

Richard Vanderlubbe, President of TripCentral.ca and a long-time participant in industry associations, including TICO, says now is the time for Ontario travel agencies to act.

“We need to get to the politicians. We need money. We need to make some noise.”

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.