TICO is waiving annual registration renewal fees owed between 01APR, 2020 to 31MAR, 2021. The travel regulator says the move was made possible due to financial support from the government of Ontario.
"Recognizing the severe impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the travel industry, we are pleased to share that the Ontario Government is providing funding to TICO so that we can assist travel agents and wholesalers during this difficult time. This financial support will also allow TICO to maintain a focus on its important consumer protection mandate," wrote TICO president, Richard Smart, in a registrar bulletin.
"This will allow registrants to focus on their priority business needs without the added financial stress of meeting certain payment obligations with TICO."
The waiver applies to those already registered with TICO as of 31MAR, 2020 and does not apply to new registrants who applied for initial registration after this date.
Smart says TICO will be providing a refund to registrants who have already paid their annual registration renewal fees and fund payments for this period. The regulator will be contacting impacted registrants with the details of the refund process.
Smart notes that registrants are still required to complete and submit their Registration Renewal Form (without payment) and their Form-1 (without payment) by the filing deadline.
“I would like to thank the travel agent and wholesaler sector, and the Travel Industry Council of Ontario for all its efforts during these unprecedented times. Our government recognizes the financial hardship this sector continues to experience as a result of COVID-19, and is providing financial support to TICO to assist its registrants during this difficult time,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services.
The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) applauded the move on Twitter, writing: "This is very welcome news to ACTA and Ontario Travel Agencies."
Anna Kroupina Journalist
Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.
Beth- September 4, 2020 @ 13:48
TICO has always been protection for the consumer, not a help for travel agencies. TICO are government bureaucrats not a travel agency friend. They know nothing about the travel agency business. Their 2500 registrants, more than half will be out of business by next year, and how will they justify TICO then? Protecting the consumers from what?
Jeffrey Verman- September 4, 2020 @ 12:28
While this is surely a positive short-term development, it should serve the government and TICO as a blueprint for the future.
The annual registration renewal fee is and will always be a ridiculous, wasteful, fictitious expense for travel agencies. If it were $50, who would bother complaining? With two locations, I pay, I think 35 times that amount. For what? To create a "license" that we have to renew annually is just a cash grab that serves no one well except TICO's pockets to pay for their staff. That simply shouldn't be on me.
We send them our financials because it is the law. But other businesses don't have to pay renewal fees. Travel agencies in other provinces don't have to pay these fees - and they don't have to pay for a Compensation Fund either. Why are we put at such a disadvantage? During these pandemic times, I'd cut off an arm to get that wasted money back from TICO. (Never mind having to pay extra for yearly audits - as was required until recently - how about compensating agencies for that expense too?)
It took much lobbying of the provincial government to get these short term steps taken. At first, TICO merely deferred these fees. We were down 99% in April, and TICO merely deferred these fees. This showed a lack of understanding of the devastation happening in our industry. It is the last thing on the planet a travel agency should have to fund. Honestly, until these steps, this has been appalling.
Similarly, the Compensation Fund must go. Those who think we need it can pay for it themselves.
Let's be serious here - TICO's announcement is 6 long months into this pandemic. This should have been announced months ago.
I fully recognize a potential role for an organization like TICO to exist. But its present format is entirely reactive, slow to act, and out of date.
The real threat to consumers with travel isn't travel agencies. It never has been. The pandemic has proved this beyond a doubt.