Advocate – in the best interests of the retail travel industry to government, suppliers and other organizations through one strong voice.

Summarizing recent ADVOCACY activities of your association in Q4 2017

FEDERAL

Transport Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA):

In the Q3 ACTA in Action Update, ACTA reported on the private meeting with Minister Marc Garneau and Mississauga, Ontario MP Omar Alghabra. The purpose of the meeting was to hear ACTA’s input on the upcoming Bill C-49 concerning the passenger bill of rights, slated as Phase 3 in the RMI. Other talking points included much of what was cited in ACTA’s submission: the need for a competitive but healthy travel industry in Canada, the reduction of taxes and airport fees to stop the drain of travelers from Canadian airports to USA border airports, and transparency in pricing. ACTA has formed a CTA Committee with members from across the country to work specifically on this initiative on behalf of Canadian Travel Agencies and travelers. ACTA will provide a progress report as this initiative unfolds throughout early 2018.

International Air Transport Association (IATA):

ACTA actively  participates on IATA joint committees that have equal representation from  travel agency retailers and airlines. ACTA appoints retail members to assist us on these important committees including seven retailers for the Agency Programme Joint Council (APJC). These members are senior representatives from leisure and corporate agencies across the country. In the Q3 ACTA in Action Update, ACTA reported on the APJC meeting on July 27th. The agenda included an update on PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance, Agency Debit Memos (ADM) including post-billing disputes and an update on the ADM Working Group, an update on the Canada Travel Fraud Prevention Group and the IATA Settlement Systems (ISS) Statistics. These items are key concerns for ACTA members and why ACTA is involved: 1) ACTA is a partner and plays an active role in the Canada Fraud Prevention Group, providing members with resource material to assist in the prevention of fraud. 2) In response to the outcry from ACTA and the global travel community, IATA pushed the June

1, 2017 implementation date for IATA appointed agencies to be Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS)

compliant to March 2018. ACTA took immediate measures to assist members in this process. A webinar was hosted on July

19, 2017 and reached maximum participant capacity. The recorded webinar is available on demand for members on the ACTA Campus. 3) Unfortunately, Canada has been identified as being one of the top three countries globally with the most Agency Debit Memos (ADMs). Starting in Q4 and going into 2018, ACTA is taking an active role within the ADM Working Group working to resolve the high incidences of travel agency debit memos in this country.

ACTA is also working through the Financial Advisory Group (the F.A.G., a joint agency/airline sub-committee), to conduct a thorough review of Canada’s Financial Criteria (LFC) for IATA accreditation. Several meetings were held with the agency members of the F.A.G. and the full group (agents and airlines) where the members went through the LFC, line by line. This process wrapped up in Q4 2017 and will be presented to the larger Agent/Airline Group in early 2018. On behalf of the Agency members, ACTA submitted a proposal for an alternative to the costly annual Review Engagement as requested by members. ACTA will keep members posted on the status of our proposal.

Insurance:

Over the past few months, ACTA has leveraged our relationships with other organizations to move this national initiative. ACTA is working with the Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA) to work toward the goal of harmonization in the travel industry. At the same time, ACTA is also working with provincial insurance regulators, specifically the Alberta Insurance Council  (AIC)  to  address  issues  within  Alberta  and  nationally  overall.  The  AIC  recognizes  the  change  in  the  industry landscape and the need for the sale of travel insurance to accommodate these changes. ACTA and members of the Alberta Regional Council Insurance Sub-Committee met with the AIC in October in advance of the Canadian Insurance Services Regulatory Organizations (CISRO) meetings in Toronto, where AIC was attending and bringing our concerns to this national collective of insurance regulators. ACTA will advise on the follow-up of this meeting. Insurance will remain a key priority for ACTA going into 2018. 

KEY REGIONAL ISSUES:

Review of the Ontario Travel Industry Act and Bill 166

On October 5, Bill 166, the Strengthening Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, 2017, was introduced and passed First Reading. Included in this Omnibus Bill are changes considered during the Review of the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002. ACTA  is  extremely disappointed  that  our  key  concern,  the  need  to  have  a  consumer-funded  Compensation  Fund,  is noticeably absent from the Bill.   Another concern raised in the ACTA submissions was the membership’s opposition to individual  registration.  Bill  166  spells  out  the  changes  to  the  types  and  definitions  of  registrants.  It  is  now  “travel salesperson” and “travel seller”. This means retailers and wholesalers would now register under the category of “travel seller”. A person who, on behalf of a travel seller, sells to other consumers or other travel sellers, travel services provided by another person and who is employed by that travel seller would also be required to register. While it would appear that the Bill is all but finalized as Ontario heads into an election year, ACTA is not giving up on lobbying the government to make the change to a consumer pay model and opposition to individual registration. ACTA continued to lobby the government in hearings on November 20, 2017, along with CATO. A written submission reinforcing our message was also delivered to the government. ACTA will remain actively involved as this Bill moves through the legislative and then regulatory process.

Fraud

In October, ACTA co-led the Canada Travel Fraud Prevention Group meeting. This group includes representatives from all levels of the industry and law enforcement including: ACTA, ATOQ, CATO, IATA, airlines, credit card companies, GDS’s, Perseuss, the Canada Anti-Fraud Centre and the RCMP. A presenter at the forum was Eric Johnston, General Manager of the Association of Tour Operators of Quebec (ATOQ). ACTA continues to work with ATOQ to address the ongoing problems with Fraud. The work involves raising awareness of 3 Domain Secure version 2.0 (3DS 2.0). This software can shift liability back to the card issuer from the merchant. The implementation of 3Ds secure is supported by IATA’s DISH 22.2, which has now been terminated by IATA. ACTA will lobby IATA to stave off the termination of Version DISH 22.2 and at the same time, move quickly on the implementation of the newer Version DISH 23. ACTA will keep the members apprised of the status of these programs.

Taxes, Fees and Surcharges

The issue of Taxes, Fees and Surcharges has reoccurred over the years and is once again top of mind of late and in particular the matter of the Fuel Surcharge. At the time the fuel surcharge was implemented, it was intended to be a temporary measure  to  address  the  sudden  and  dramatic  rise  in  the  price  of  fuel.  In  2010,  the  Canadian  government  imposed advertising rules, which forced airlines to disclose the amounts of taxes and fees that are being charged. While the amount is now disclosed, it does not change the conversation that an agent has with their client and having to explain the fact that a fuel surcharge is being added. Today, the price of fuel has come down and stabilized yet the surcharge remains. We applaud some airlines who have chosen to eliminate the fuel surcharge and instead, raised their base fares recognizing that fuel is a “cost of doing business.” For those airlines still charging fuel surcharges, ACTA will, once again, be addressing this issue and will keep the members posted on the outcome of these discussions.

Costco Travel and Pricing Concerns

Several members raised concern about Costco Travel and what appears to be discounting on packages. ACTA questioned the suppliers implicated, and was advised that the prices were not that of the travel suppliers. Costco is a tour operator/retailer and some suppliers sell Costco airline seats. Costco Travel then packages them with product that they have procured.  Costco may have access to the same product but at different contract rates based on their buying power in the U.S.  Upon investigation, in this particular case, Costco Travel was not discounting the product of the Canadian airline suppliers. ACTA appreciates that members brought this concern to our attention and applaud the quick responses from the Canadian Travel Suppliers.

Question? Contact Heather Craig-peddie at VP of Advocacy and Member Relations hcraig-peddie@acta.ca