Travel agents no longer need licences in most parts of Australia. Tasmania and Western Australia,
the only states still requiring travel agent licences, will follow suit in the coming months.
This deregulation occurred on 1 July 2014 and will help Australian-based travel agents
compete with overseas and online counterparts by reducing red tape, and ensuring requirements
are the same across the nation. It also reflects changes to the industry and consumer behaviour
as Australians now book their holidays in many ways.
For consumers, it means they have the same rights whether they book their holidays
through an agent, online, or a combination of both.
More information about the reforms is available on the Australian Consumer Law website.
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is now the main legislation governing travel agent conduct.
There is a series of guides on the various rights and remedies in the ACL, including a guide for
the travel and accommodation industry, available on the OFT website.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also has a free online education program
to help small businesses and franchisees learn about their rights and obligations under the
Competition and Consumer Act 2010, which includes the ACL.
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has developed a new accreditation scheme
called The AFTA Accreditation Scheme (ATAS) for agents and other travel intermediaries.
This was developed as a part of the travel reforms and will help consumers identify travel
businesses committed to certain professional standards.
Businesses can also get accreditation to provide specific products and services from
other industry organisations, such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA)
or the Cruise Lines International Association of Australasia (CLIA).
On 25 August 2014, OFT and consumer protection agencies across Australia launched
the ‘Pack Some Peace of Mind’ campaign to inform Australians about the changes.
It includes tips on how to book holidays and ensure things go smoothly.
More information is available on the Pack some peace of mind website.