On behalf of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) we would like to thank you for your continued support in 2016 and wish you good health and business success as we work our way through 2017.
Over the past year, Canada's Travel Agency industry organized the travel arrangements for millions of Corporate and Leisure travelers across the country and abroad. Corporate Canada and Canadian consumers continued to travel while the travel suppliers increased capacity and opened new destinations. We are witnessing the trend of the "Mega Travel Company” through mergers and acquisitions, while at the same time we see growth in the Independent Contractor space. In any case, the value of the Travel Agent continues to be recognized by the consumer resulting in solid revenue performance for many of our members.
Over the past year, ACTA as a key stakeholder, has engaged government in change that will enable secure and sustainable travel agency businesses. On behalf of our members ACTA has shown progress and success in areas that include:
- Federal Government: More than a year after submitting ACTA’s member feedback to the Review of the Canadian Transportation Act, and two different meetings with government officials, the Final Report from the government was released in early 2016. ACTA participated in a number of main stream media interviews. In late 2016, the Minister of Transport announced changes to the Act, some of which were included in our submission. ACTA will engage the Canadian Transportation Agency and government to assist in ensuring the recommended changes to the Act make sense for both the consumer and the industry and do not negatively impact ACTA Members.
- ACTA is an active participant in the Ontario Travel Industry Act Review which is being approached in separate Phases. Phase II, the “solutioning” phase is underway and ACTA will be consulting with Travel Agency Members to prepare and submit recommendations for the March 31st deadline.
- ACTA responded to the Ontario government’s Interim Report on a Review of the Employment Standards Act (ESA) after consulting with a range of members. The Report focused on what the government sees as a growing problem: the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. In an industry that is seeing growth in the Independent Contractor model, this could have a significant impact on Ontario travel agencies and specifically on the way an Independent Contractor is defined in Ontario. The Final Report by the government is expected sometime in 2017.
- In response to ACTA and industry input, the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) agreed to a phased in increase of Compensation Fund contributions by 33% rather than the full 66% originally proposed for July 1, 2016.
- ACTA delivered a presentation to Consumer Protection BC (CPBC) bringing them up to date on some of the changes and challenges our members face in the retail travel space. ACTA members expressed concern over CPBC’s media campaign and the fact that the messaging did not support the benefits of booking with a BC licensed agency. In 2017, ACTA will be working on establishing opportunities for our members to connect with CPBC, and provide CPBC with direct Member feedback on initiatives (such as the media campaign) prior to final release.
- ACTA contributes as a key stakeholder to the Office de la protection du consummateur (OPC) Advisory Committee for travel agencies. In 2016, ACTA was consulted on a number of matters that were brought to the attention of OPC including Travel Agent licensing/certification and concerns with voiding of tickets within 24 hours of issuance. Understanding that not all issues fall under the mandate of the OPC, ACTA and ATOQ (the tour operator association in Québec) have scheduled a meeting to discuss Member concerns.
AB/SK/MB/ATLANTIC (unregulated provinces):
- While Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Atlantic Provinces are unregulated provinces, ACTA acts as the voice of the industry to government. ACTA is contacted and consulted in issues relevant to the travel trade such as the failure of a non-member agency in Saskatchewan in 2016 and consideration of a consumer protection model in Manitoba.
- In the fall of 2016, ACTA and the ACTA Alberta Council Insurance Sub-Committee had the opportunity to present to the Alberta Insurance Council (AIC) and members of the Life Council. Agencies both in and outside of Alberta have expressed concern over the AIC barriers to selling insurance. ACTA has since met with the AIC earlier this month and we will continue to work together to address Member concerns.
- Following the submission of Member Feedback to the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR) Issues Paper, ACTA is awaiting a possible spring Position Paper to determine next steps for working with CCIR. ACTA was clear in our message that a harmonized approach to licensing agents/agencies across Canada is what is needed to ensure consumers are being properly insured.
ORGANIZATIONS AND SUPPLIERS
- International Air Transport Association (IATA): In 2016, IATA consulted with ACTA to bring awareness to a discrepancy in the cost of BSP HOT files. Canadian agencies had been receiving these files complimentary while agencies around the world pay. Citing the need for cost recovery, IATA was going to begin charging for the files immediately. ACTA successfully negotiated in getting IATA to delay the implementation of the charge, allowing the payment of these files in Canadian dollars rather than U.S., providing an alternative to the HOT files in the form of transactional files and finally extending a 25% discount for 2017. These concessions saved many ACTA members several thousands of dollars.
ACTA works closely with IATA on a number of Groups and Committees to ensure that the interests of the Canadian travel agency community are considered including the Canada Agency Program Joint Council (or APJC which is a committee of equal representation between travel agents and airlines), the IATA Financial Advisory Group, the Agent Debit Memo (ADM) Working Group, the New Distribution Capability (NDC) Working Group, and the PCI Compliance Working Group. ACTA will be facilitating a full review of the Local Area Financial criteria with recommendations to be proposed to the IATA APJC in Q1 2017.
- Small Business Matters (SBM) Coalition: ACTA continues to work with the Small Business Matters Coalition with their primary focus of addressing the exorbitant credit card fees imposed by the major credit card companies and merchant providers.
Furthermore, realizing the desire in the Travel Agency community for continuous learning, ACTA will continue to develop certification programs that align with the "future" needs of our members to help them comply with the standards of regulators.
Throughout the year ACTA will be coming to a city near you to host premium networking events. We will be connecting decision makers and influencers throughout our industry and listening to understand how we can do better as your association. As we begin 2017 ACTA's planning is underway and some of the highlights include:
- Increased communication towards our work on key advocacy issues and success.
- The revival of the ACTA BC Golf Event.
- Two new Premium networking events in the province of Quebec.
- Travel MarketPlace Conference June 13 & 14th at the International Plaza Hotel, Toronto.
- A dedicated francophone communication plan, through the release of a monthly francophone newsletter and regular updates to actafr.ca
- Enhancement to the ACTA Membership Card program
- New training and certification programs that align with the needs of our members
The year ahead is full of opportunities and challenges. We look forward to continuing our efforts and hope that we can count on your participation. Thank you to the ACTA Board of Directors, Regional Councils and Committees who volunteer their free time to the trade association and make us stronger. Together we can share our passion and make a true difference.
Wendy Paradis | President | email@example.com