Are you thinking of setting up as a Tour Operator?

These are eight legal essentials to operating a tour operator business in Australia.

1. Name Protection

You need to come up with a name. The more distinctive the name, the easier it is to protect.

In terms of legal protection, you need to look at registering a business name (stand alone or as a company name), a domain name and a trade mark.

The first and best protection for your name is to register a business name or an Australian Company because it prevents anyone from registering an identical name as a trading name in Australia.

Register at least a domain name and set up a website because this protects your name on the internet.

When you have a logo to go with the name, register the name and the logo as a Trade Mark.

Cordato Partners can help with Business Name, Company and Trade Mark registrations.

2. Product quality, advertising and marketing

You need to comply with the Australian Consumer Law when it comes to product quality, advertising and marketing.

Pay particular attention to the promises and the descriptions in your Brochures, Website and Marketing Materials.

Click here for an outline of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Guide to Travel & Accommodation Advertising.

Cordato Partners can help by vetting brochures, website and marketing materials.

3. Supplier Contracts

Tour operators need to work with local tour operators, tour guides, accommodation providers and transport providers. The arrangements with travel and accommodation suppliers need to be documented with confirmed arrangements and agreed terms.

In particular, you must have a clear idea of what deposits are payable, what cancellation fees are retained, what price variations are possible and what is included or excluded from the arrangements.

In some cases, the supplier has a contract, in other cases you provide a contract to the supplier, and in yet other cases, it the arrangement is documented by an exchange of emails.

Cordato Partners can help by drafting and reviewing supplier contracts.

4. Terms & Conditions and PI Insurance

Liability Protection is obtained in 2 ways – Terms and Conditions (T & Cs) and Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance provide liability protection.

Well drafted T & Cs for your Booking Forms and for your Website will protect against most traveller claims because they will provide the tour operator with the flexibility to alter and cancel the travel arrangements, if necessary.

Cordato Partners can help with the T & Cs.

PI Insurance is available to protect the tour operator against liability for some incidents which might occur on the tour. PI Insurance is not essential, and having a separate entity and well drafted T & Cs for your Booking Application Forms and for your Website will protect against most claims.

5. Travel Insurance

It should be an essential requirement that the traveller has travel insurance.

Not only must your T & Cs require that the traveller have adequate Travel Insurance, but you must also check that the Travel Insurance taken out covers travel to the place where the tour is to be carried out and also covers the tour dates.

The three most important covers for travel insurance are cancellation, loss of baggage/personal effects, and medical, hospital and repatriation expense cover.

Although the travel insurance covers only the traveller, if it is in place it will protect the tour operator from being a target for ‘breach of duty of care’ claims if an insured event occurs.

6. Passports & Visas

The tour operator needs to check that the traveller’s passport will have 6 months validity from the date when the traveller is due to return to Australia.

The tour operator also needs to check whether travel on that passport is covered by a visa waiver or whether a visa is required.

7. Professional Association

Investigate joining a professional association so as to keep up to date with trends.

Membership of a professional association also enhances the professionalism of the business.

8. No Travel Agents Licence

Travel Agents licensing, which included Tour Operators licensing, was abolished in Australia on 30 June 2014. Also, the Government compensation scheme known as the Travel Compensation Fund was closed to new claims as of 30 June 2014.

As a result, there are no longer any licensing or compulsory insurance requirements to be a tour operator in Australia. Click here for more information on the abolition.

Watch this video for a discussion on legal essentials for tour operators

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