Australia’s consumer watchdog expects to have its hands busy dealing with COVID-affected travel complaints this year.
In his annual address to the Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA) in Sydney, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims outlined his enforcement policies for the year ahead, and travel was very high up on the list.
Mr Sims said that the ACCC would be paying close attention to how international holidays were marketed, given the current uncertainty around how long travel restrictions will remain in place.
“The continuing impact of the pandemic on the travel sector is well recognised,” Mr Sims said.
“Consequently, the COVID-19 enforcement taskforce will be actively monitoring forward sales practices by travel businesses due to concerns about misrepresentations in advertising and marketing material, particularly given the huge uncertainty around the imposition and lifting of travel restrictions.
“Further, the impacts of the pandemic are particularly evident in the aviation sector, as evidenced by the direction received from the treasurer … for the ACCC to monitor and provide a quarterly report to government on prices, costs and profits of the Australian domestic aviation sector.”
It isn’t just a surge in domestic aviation that has kept the ACCC busy either, with Mr Sims outlining a growing number of complaints in the caravan and camping sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Not surprisingly the local caravan sector has seen significant growth in 2020 as a result of the international travel restrictions,” Mr Sims said.
“The ACCC continues to receive a number of complaints and concerns about failures by caravan manufacturers and dealers to comply with their consumer guarantee obligations.”
Mr Sims also said he was encouraged by regional air operator Rex entering into some of the major domestic routes in Australia, but said the regulator would be paying close attention to ensure that they received fair treatment.
“Competition in the aviation industry remains fragile and the ACCC is focused on behaviours that adversely affect the competitive process,” Mr Sims said.
“The ACCC will, for example, be closely monitoring the plans by the regional operator Rex to enter the major domestic routes, including those connecting Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with a particular focus on Rex’s ability to access slots at Sydney Airport.”
What issues would you like to see the ACCC tackle this year? Are you still worried about forward booking travel and being able to access a refund?
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