Ontario to Further Strengthen Protections for Consumers Buying Travel Services
New Changes In Effect on July 1 to Help Reduce Burden on Businesses
Starting in July, Ontario will be seeking public feedback to further strengthen protections for consumers buying travel services in the province.
The marketplace has evolved and the way consumers buy travel has changed since the Travel Industry Act was last reviewed in 2002. Outdated rules also place unnecessary burden on businesses offering travel services in Ontario. A review of the Act will help these businesses grow and prosper.
New changes to the regulation under the Act will come into effect on July 1, 2016 that will also reduce burden on businesses and demonstrate Ontario's continued response to changes in the marketplace. One-day tour operators, such as winery and beer tours, will now be exempt from all requirements under the Act, including the need to register and contribute to the Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund. Not-for-profit organizations that promote tourism in Ontario may also benefit from greater flexibility in meeting registration and operating requirements related to security deposits and working capital.
Strengthening consumer protection and reducing burden on businesses is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.
- The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) is the designated administrative authority that administers and enforces the Travel Industry Act (TIA) requirements. Travel agents and wholesalers must be registered under the TIA to operate in Ontario.
- TICO administers an industry-financed Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund. The fund protects consumers who do not receive the travel services that they paid for due to the insolvency or bankruptcy of an Ontario registered travel agent or wholesaler or due to an airline or cruise line ceasing to operate.
- TICO’s recent annual consumer survey indicates that approximately 73 per cent of travel bookings were made online in 2015 in comparison to minimal online bookings in 2002, when the TIA was last updated.
- Ontario’s five-year, $400-million Business Growth Initiative is helping to grow the economy and create jobs by promoting an innovation-based economy, helping small companies scale-up and modernizing regulations for businesses.
“This review will build on past improvements and provide effective solutions for today’s marketplace where e-commerce now dominates the travel industry. I look forward to hearing the recommendations that come out of the public and stakeholder consultations that will help strengthen consumer protection and reduce burden on business in Ontario.”
“We are pleased that Ontario is moving forward with this review as it will help improve protection for consumers buying travel services in the province. Travel industry support for a review is high as many players recognize the need for an updated framework that reflects the current reality in the marketplace.”