The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) will reinstate its fees in 2023, according to a bulletin that was released on Wednesday (Sept. 21).
It will also be launching a comprehensive review of its funding model and Compensation Fund.
Previously, between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2023, all TICO annual registration renewal fees and Compensation Fund assessments that were owed during this period were waived.
“This was possible due to temporary funding from the Ontario government,” TICO wrote. “This allowed registrants to focus on their priority business needs without the added financial stress of meeting certain payment obligations with TICO.”
Travel businesses still face challenges, but the market is seeing pent-up demand, which is translating into bookings, TICO said, outlining its reason for reintroducing fees.
In 2021, TICO conducted a fee review and industry consultation about a proposed funding approach that addressed only annual registration fees and other regulatory services.
“Much of the feedback we heard was that industry was looking for a review that also encompassed the Compensation Fund,” the council wrote. “TICO made a commitment to revisit registrant fees in a comprehensive manner, and we are now following through on that promise.”
“As the industry moves through the recovery process, there is an opportunity to revisit TICO’s future funding framework and fee model.”
Fees to begin in April 2023
The pandemic aid TICO received from the Ontario government is set to end on March 31, 2023.
Starting April 1, 2023, TICO will temporarily revert to the fee structure that was in place prior to the pandemic.
This will be in effect until a comprehensive funding framework review is complete, the council said.
All registrants with a year-end or six-month period-end on or after Jan. 1, 2023, will have fees owing starting on April 1, 2023.
Compensation Fund assessments
The retail rate remains at 25 cents per $1,000 of retail sales and the wholesale rate also remains at 25 cents per $1,000 of wholesale sales.
(For more information about Compensation Fund assessments, click here).
Funding framework review begins
TICO says it has hired Optimus SBR (Optimus), an Ontario-based full-service consulting firm, to lead an end-to-end review of TICO’s current funding framework, as well as a full review of the Compensation Fund.
In collaboration with TICO, Optimus will consider all available options around an innovative funding model that meets the needs of consumer protection today and the future.
“Integral to this review is stakeholder input. Optimus will consider input from a selection of stakeholders as part of its engagement mandate,” TICO wrote.
Optimus will provide a recommended approach to TICO’s management for a future funding model that addresses both registrant fees and the Compensation Fund.
This review is expected to be completed by the end of 2022, with a presentation of recommendations to TICO’s Board of Directors.
Following a review by the Board of Directors, and consistent with TICO’s Administrative Agreement with the Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, recommendations will be provided to the Minister, detailing any proposed changes to the current funding framework and fee model.
Following the completion of the Minister’s review, TICO says it will initiate a comprehensive sector consultation with registrants and industry groups about any proposed changes.
This is anticipated to take place in 2023.
Details and parameters of TICO’s funding framework and the Compensation Fund are included in the Travel Industry Act, 2002, Ontario Regulation 26/05 (General Regulation) under the Travel Industry Act, 2002 and the Safety and Consumer Statutes Administration Act, 1996.
Depending on the nature of the possible options that TICO submits to the government for consideration, the timelines to accept and implement any proposed changes to the fee model are variable, TICO said.
Registrants would also require time to ready their businesses for any proposed changes.
As previously mentioned, as of April 1, 2023 and until this process is complete, TICO plans to revert to the funding model that was in place prior to the pandemic.
“TICO is committed to keeping registrants up to date throughout this process,” the council said, noting that it welcomes feedback at email@example.com.