Accreditations

Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA)

Founded in 1957, the Australian Federation of Travel Agents has been representing about 70% of travel agents in Australia for over 50 years.

AFTA provides the following services to the travel retail sector:

  • Financial advice
  • Legal representation and advice
  • Business management education and training
  • Promotion of tourism
  • ATAS accreditation

As the industry’s watchdog, AFTA develops policies and standards to protect the interests of travel agents, develop the Australian tourism industry and enhance the professionalism of travel agents in Australia.

AFTA collaborates with the following organisations:

  • International Air Transport Association (IATA)
  • IATA is a trade association representing about 265 airlines, in 117 countries. It is headquartered in Montreal, Canada.
  • The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC)
  • ATEC represents Australia’s $33.4 billion tourism export sector.
  • It is headquartered in Sydney, Australia.
  • The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO)
  • CATO represents travel agents in Australia and assists members in maintaining high product and service standards. It is headquartered in Sydney, Australia.

Their Code of Ethics binds all AFTA Members. The Code of Conduct (The Australian Federation of Travel Agents Ltd – Code of Ethics, 2014) includes member relations with the public, abiding by the Australian Consumer Law, abiding by the Privacy Act 1988 (keeping all client transaction confidentially), and acting in a fair and reasonable manner with its customers.

AFTA hosts the National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) to recognise and acknowledge the achievements of industry members.

AFTA also facilitates the Australian Travel Professionals Program (ATPP), the leading accreditation program, to promote professionalism in the industry.

Also, AFTA administers the AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS). ATAS provides a certification Certificate, business training support, on-going industry support and exclusive access member services.

Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA)

Founded in 1977, the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) is a not-for-profit organisation representing travel agencies in Canada.

Acting as the voice for the tourism industry, ACTA provides leadership to the travel industry by advocating its best interests, facilitating learning opportunities that may lead to certification and accreditation, empowering members to be more effective, and promoting the tourism sector.

Headquartered in Mississauga, ACTA has over 3,000 members employing over 14,000 travel consultants. Members include airlines, tour organisers, travel merchants, hotels, cruise and rail lines, and car rental companies.

The following seven Regional Councils have been formed to uphold the interests of its members: Alberta/NWT, Atlantic, British Columbia/Yukon, Manitoba/Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.

ACTA’s network of communication is decentralised, a Regional Manager directs each of its seven regional offices, which improves communication and allows the various councils to be more attuned to the local needs of each council. ACTA also empowers its members through open forums and ad hoc committees to be actively involved in the future of the organisation.   

In addition to providing advocacy and lobbying, facilitating education and training programs, and representing the tourism industry, ACTA also conducts and communicates the latest trends and research findings to enable members to work effectively while providing a high standard of travel services.

All members are required to adhere to ACTA’s Code of Conduct, which is designed to hold the industry to a higher level of professionalism. ACTA's Code of Ethics and Standards covers the following areas: “relations between ACTA members and the public”, “relations between ACTA members”, and “ACTA code of standards.”

ACTA’s Mission is “to foster the success and prosperity of our travel agency members,” and its vision is for travel agents to be recognised as knowledgeable experts and to work in a sustainable environment.

A sustainable environment includes fair employment, business advertising practices, and supporting fair causes like Beyond Borders (to stop child sex trafficking), Cats and Dogs International (CANDI; to save the lives of stray cats and dogs in Mexico and the Caribbean), Hope Air (to provide specialised medical care to low-income Canadians), and Tourism Cares (to promote sustainable tourism practices). 

ACTA are dedicated to their employees, members, the general public, and society. Every little deed helps–even saving the life of a stray kitten!

American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)

Founded in 1931, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is the largest association of travel agents, retail travel vendors, airlines, tour and cruise organisers, hotels, travel schools, and car rental companies in the world. ASTA is the leading voice for the travel industry and the travelling public.

All members are required to uphold the ASTA Code of Ethics, a rigorous set of 13-point moral principles to promote high standards of integrity in travel.

During the early stages of the 19th century, ASTA was known as the American Steamship and Tourist Agents Association (ASTAA), and while the organisation has undergone many changes over the last 80+ years, it continues to uphold the mission of its founders.

ASTA’s history at a glance:

  • 1931 - founded as the American Steamship and Tourist Agents Association (yes, steamships were the primary way of travel back in those days!)
  • 1931 - 60 agents selling steamship travel joined the organisation
  • 1946 - the International Air Transport Association (IATA) slashed agent commissions by 2.5% down to 5%. ASTA fought back.
  • 1950 - ASTA won a 27-year battle restoring commissions to hardworking rail travel agents
  • The 1960s - ASTA opened seven travel schools including its first School at Sea
  • 1968 - ASTA waged the largest campaign to date to promote international travel while President Johnson tried to ban it
  • 1970a - ASTA formed several associations to promote member benefits
  • 1990s – publication of the Travel Agent Manual
  • 1995 – ASTA files an anti-trust lawsuit to thwart the efforts of seven major airlines in an attempt to slash agent commissions
  • 1999 - ASTA launched a Justice Department investigation to protect fair trading practices
  • 2007 – ASTA rebranded
  • Today – ASTA remains at the forefront of the travel industry being represented in over 140 countries in the world

At the Peppermill Resort in Reno Tahoe, during the Global Convention (AGC; September 25-28, 2016), ASTA will acknowledge hardworking travel agencies and travel product vendors with recognitions including the Crystal Awards.

In an age of impersonal technology, ASTA continues to promote and sustain the personal and traditional service of professional travel agents. There are some things that computers cannot do, and a personal touch is one of them!

Better Business Bureau Accreditation

Founded in 1912, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is an independent non-profit organisation that holds businesses in USA and Canada to a higher standard.

The goal of BBB is to provide consumer protection and industry self-regulation. In 2013 alone, BBB handled over 885,000 consumer disputes against businesses.

Many businesses can join the company, but it takes a reputable business to become accredited with BBB. Once a business becomes BBB Accredited, it must uphold the BBB Code of Business Practices that set the conditions and requirements for BBB Accreditation Standards.

The BBB Code of Business Practices is built on eight principles that promote trust in business, including:

  1. Maintaining a positive track record in the marketplace
  2. Adhering to honest advertising methods
  3. Providing clear product or service disclosures
  4. Providing clear policies, procedures, and guarantees
  5. Honouring written and verbal representations
  6. Dealing with disputes promptly and professionally
  7. Protecting customer data
  8. Conducting all business dealings with integrity.

BBB provide many useful and informative resources to businesses including travel agencies and tourism companies delineating the do’s and don’ts of honest business operation.

Travellers in the US and Canada are encouraged to use BBB Accredited travel agents –  meaning they are licensed, they have been in business for at least 12 months, and they are holding themselves to a higher standard.

They have to keep their accreditation.

The accreditation protects you as a consumer.

So, if you’re looking to book your next holiday, choose a BBB Accredited travel agent.

Consumer Protection BC (British Columbia)

Since 2004, Consumer Protection BC has been promoting fairness in the marketplace for businesses and consumers.

Consumer Protection BC handles concerns from businesses and consumers. It also educates both parties of their rights and obligations, investigates suspected violations of consumer laws, and licenses certain industries.

Consumer Protection BC regulates product and services business communication including advertising, disclosure of information, and licensing for the travel services industries. Travellers can obtain information about licensed tourism companies from the Consumer Protection BC website.

On the Consumer Protection BC website, choose License Search > Active License Search should enable you to locate licensed travel agents.

Use a licensed travel agent – it is safer and fairer for customers.

International Air Transport Association (IATA)

The goal of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is to promote and help maintain a safe, reliable and economical air service.

Founded in 1945, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is an industry body representing 117 countries and 265 airlines, which account for 83% of total air traffic.

The organisation is headquartered in Montreal, Canada, with 54 offices in 53 countries in Africa and the Middle East (AME), Europe, China and North Asia, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas.

IATA helps develop industry standards and regulatory policies, safety and security protocols, and regional planning and travel agency programs.

IATA’s mission is “to represent, lead and serve the airline industry,” and their vision is “to be the force for value creation and innovation driving a safe, secure and profitable air transport industry that sustainably connects and enriches our world.”

To improve travel efficiency, IATA is in the process of implementing The Fast Travel program that is designed to give travellers more options while reducing overheads for the industry through uniform standards and practices.

The Fast Travel program includes the provision of online and offline self-service channels allowing passengers to check-in quickly, providing self-boarding, and using self-service channels for bag recovery.

IATA’s Passenger Facilitation Program (PFP) is designed to improve security, enhance border protection, and provide efficient immigration and customs.

IATA endorses the International Airline Training Fund (IATF), a not-for-profit foundation with a goal of narrowing airline-training inequalities in those parts of the world where it needs improvement. IATA and other organisations support IATF and its honourable cause through donations.

The IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) program has the goal to make airlines more conscious and proactive about their environmental footprint.

The IATA Fuel Reporting & Emissions Database (FRED) establishes fuel-reporting standards with a goal to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5% (from 2009 to 2020), and a 50% reduction of net CO2 emissions from 2005 to 2050.

Today’s air industry is very different to what it was 50 years ago, and proactive organisations like IATA are driving innovation to make that happen.