Hon Michael Mischin LLB (Hons) BJuris (Hons) MLC — WA travel industry deregulated

Hon Michael Mischin LLB (Hons) BJuris (Hons) MLC — WA travel industry deregulated

2Western Australia’s licensing system for travel agents ceases tomorrow, in line with the national deregulation of the travel industry.

The move comes at a time when travellers are increasingly buying travel online directly from airlines and accommodation providers, and through interstate and international agents.

Commerce Minister Michael Mischin said while the WA Government did not originally support total deregulation of the Australian travel industry, it could not be the only State with a stand-alone licensing and consumer compensation scheme.

“This would have put travel agents here at a distinct competitive disadvantage to their interstate and overseas counterparts, for little or no benefit to customers,” Mr Mischin said.

The Minister said consumers were still protected under Australian Consumer Law for travel transactions.

“Under Australian Consumer Law, travel services must be as described or advertised and an agent must operate with an acceptable level of skill, otherwise the customer is entitled to a refund, compensation or to have the service provided again,” he said.

More than 125 businesses in WA have signed on to a new industry-led accreditation scheme, known as ATAS, through the Australian Federation of Travel Agents. It has an industry Code of Conduct which includes complaint handling processes.

“These initiatives should promote and maintain professional standards,” Mr Mischin said

Consumers who want advice or have complaints about travel services should contact the Consumer Protection division of the Department of Commerce on 1300 304 054.

The reform means the Travel Compensation Fund, a compulsory fund for travel agents, is only accepting consumer claims for travel paid for before July 1, 2014 and will be wound down by late 2015.

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