AFTA fights travel websites

2 November 2000

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents has gone into battle against overseas based retail travel Internet sites.

AFTA chief executive Mike Hatton has written to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to complain that sites such as Expedia and Travelocity are able to do business in Australia without being subject to the regulatory requirements of the country’s travel industry.

Hatton said sites which could be accessed by Australians were effectively operating in Australia and should have to meet local licensing and Travel Compensation Fund requirements.

“Where is the control,” Hatton asked. “And where does it leave the consumer when things go wrong.” Hatton said he was recently made aware of a US website which offered, for A$4,000 (US$2,115), the opportunity to become a travel agent in Australia “within three days”.

Hatton said the travel agent accreditation offered was “meaningless in Australia”.

He added that the major retail travel Internet sites had launched a US$250 million television and media advertising campaign in the United States to stimulate business and bookings.

“We’ve all seen what’s happened to a lot of the companies, so we should be wary of the travel sites,” Hatton added.

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