Frequently Asked Questions
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Consumer Protection to Give You Confidence to Book
Who is AFTA?
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) is the peak industry body which represents the business interests of travel agents. Founded in 1957, AFTA seeks to enhance the professionalism of Travel Agents through:
- The effective representation in industry and government affairs
- Facilitating changes to education and training curriculum,
- Providing business support through professional advice and services, and
- Administration of the national travel accreditation scheme, ATAS
AFTA's role within the travel and tourism industry involves addressing major issues relating to the operation of all travel agencies in Australia, at both a State and Federal level. AFTA prides itself on being the industry watchdog where it ensures that the viewpoint of the agent is transmitted through media outlets and advocated through lobbying activities.
AFTA as the administrator of ATAS, is charged with the ongoing marketing and daily operations of the accreditation scheme.
What is ATAS?
The AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS) is a brand new, voluntary accreditation scheme for the travel industry which delivers criteria-based identification of reputable travel professionals and the necessary flexibility to accommodate the travel industry’s diversity and the ever changing ways of purchasing travel.
ATAS is a result of 5 years of extensive consultation between the travel industry and State and Federal Consumer Affairs Ministries. ATAS will help consumers identify reputable, professional and reliable travel agents through whom they can book travel solutions with confidence. All accredited agents must abide by a strict Code of Conduct and have a complaint resolution facility.
How does ATAS accreditation benefit me?
ATAS helps you find travel agents who meet certain standards, are reliable, well trained and professional businesses. They are the best in the industry and can provide you with peace of mind when purchasing travel via an accredited travel provider.
How does ATAS protect me?
ATAS protects you by acting as a clear indicator of quality and reliability. Agents with ATAS accreditation meet high quality standards of business practices, training and professionalism. This means you can book your travel knowing your in the safe hands of a trusted and reputable travel agent.
What can I expect from ATAS accredited travel professionals?
ATAS participants will meet high standards of business discipline, training, compliance with Australian Consumer Law, and compliance with a code of conduct – ensuring your piece of mind when booking travel.
The overarching benefits of booking with ATAS participants include;
- High customer service standards
- Destination and product expertise and knowledge
- Complaints resolution facility
- Choice and flexibility
- Convenience, hassle free and time saving
- Cost savings and value for money
- Trusted, professional adviser
How will ATAS accredited travel participants improve my booking experience?
ATAS participants are experienced industry leaders who will offer you access to a large variety of products and destinations across Australia and the world, the best suppliers and first-to-market offers. They will provide you with friendly service and create a hassle free and convenient travel experience, from beginning to end.
Why has ATAS been introduced?
The current regulatory framework for travel agents was introduced in 1986. Since then, the rapid rise of new and online business models, coupled with technological advancements and a growth in direct bookings, has gradually reduced the relevance and effectiveness of the previous system. The changing market place has also disadvantaged local travel businesses, which must compete with offshore providers operating outside the Australian regulatory framework.
On 7 December 2012, a majority of state and territory Ministers for Consumer Affairs approved a Travel Industry Transition Plan 2012 setting out reforms to travel agents' regulation and the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF). The TITP recommends an approach which complements industry efforts to promote confidence and quality, maintains appropriate levels of consumer protection and provides a level playing field to Australian travel providers.
ATAS is the result of 5 years of extensive consultation between the travel industry, and Government agencies including Consumer Affairs Ministries and consumer lobby groups. The result – an accreditation scheme which delivers criteria-based identification of reputable travel professionals, plus the necessary flexibility to accommodate the diversity of our industry and the way consumers now purchase travel. This is a robust, nimble structure which reflects the changing face of the travel distribution chain and the ever changing methods and channels of doing business with consumers.
How can I find ATAS accredited travel providers?
When considering booking travel always look for the ‘ATAS – travel accredited’ symbol below.
What are my rights when I book a holiday?
The Australian Consumer Law protects consumers when they buy goods and services, including travel, under a range of ‘consumer guarantees’.
For example, the business must:
- Provide services with due care and skill
- Supply products that are of acceptable quality and match the description (for example, in a tour brochure or what a business tells you about a particular place or tour
- Supply products and services that are reasonably fit for the purpose you specify.
If these or other guarantees are not met, you may be entitled to a refund, compensation or to have the service provided again. Visit consumerlaw.gov.au.
What if I book a holiday and don’t get what I paid for?
- Contact your travel agent or supplier for assistance
- If you are not satisfied with your travel agent's complaint resolution and you have used an ATAS-accredited agent, you may register your complaint here
- If you booked with a credit card or used your MasterCard or Visa debit card online, over the phone, or in-store and selected ‘credit’ – contact your bank as soon as possible to apply for a chargeback
- Contact the Airline Customer Advocate, if you have a problem with a participating airline
- If you cannot resolve the issue with the business, contact the consumer protection agency in your state or territory. You have protections under the Australia Consumer Law for travel-related purchases.
How can I seek a chargeback?
You can ask your bank to reverse the payment if you have paid for your travel with a credit card or by selecting ‘credit’ on a MasterCard or Visa debit card (which uses your own money but protects you from loss in the same way a credit card transaction would) and the business:
- Does not deliver the services as requested
- Does something you did not agree to, such as charging you for something you don't want.
You cannot seek a chargeback when using ‘cheque’ or ‘savings’ as the account type on a debit or EFTPOS card, or when paying with cash, cheque, money transfer, directs debit or BPAY.
You cannot request a chargeback if you are eligible to lodge an insurance claim or have already been compensated. Chargebacks come with terms and conditions, so be sure to ask your bank.
If you believe your credit card provider has incorrectly refused a chargeback request, you can dispute this decision or complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
I need to cancel my holiday booking. Can I get a refund?
A business does not have to give you a refund or other form of compensation if you cancel your booking because you change your mind, booked the wrong product (such as a tour or accommodation) or found it cheaper somewhere else. However, the business may have a policy that allows you to make changes – be aware they may charge a fee for this.
Before you book a holiday, carefully read any contract terms and conditions. You should also take out travel insurance when you book your holiday. The contract or insurance may allow you to get your money back if you have to cancel your holiday due to unforeseen circumstances, such as illness.
Should I take out travel insurance?
It is strongly recommended you take out travel insurance, especially when travelling overseas. Read your insurance policy closely and make sure you know what it covers. Be aware that most policies will not cover you if you lose money because the business you booked with stops operating. If you want this type of insurance, ask the business if they have it.