With the travel industry debacle surrounding the closure of Conquest Vacations, the obvious question is, where the hell was TICO, the Travel Industry Council of Ontario? More specifically, where the hell was Michael Pepper, the Bureaucrat-in-Chief (sometimes also known as the President, CEO, and Statutory Registrar)?
TICO claims to protect consumers if they purchase their vacations through a TICO-member travel agency. Simple enough. So when Conquest closed their doors earlier this week, and hotels in third-world countries held travellers hostage, threatening them with a vacation in a Mexican jail if they didn't come up with exorbitant hotel costs, sometimes in excess of what they paid for their entire inclusive vacation, where the hell was TICO? TICO allegedly has a reserve fund, and, apparently, has secured the trust accounts of the now defunct Conquest Vacations. So why didn't TICO contact all the suppliers (hotels, airlines, etc.) and assure them that it would make good on the expected money? Why force travellers to come up with thousands of dollars out-of-pocket which will likely not be covered for refund (only the amount actually paid to Conquest can be recovered, and that only after a lengthy period)?
Like all BAH organizations, TICO is more concerned about preserving the integrity of its bureaucracy, and its nominal mission, which is covered by its own administrative procedures. There is no consideration for the effects of its actions (and inaction, in this case). If TICO was really concerned about the intended effect, that is, to encourage travellers that there is an advantage to purchasing vacations through its member agencies, it would have stepped up and ensured that there was, indeed, such an advantage. To me - and especially to those who booked through Conquest (a TICO-member agency) - it sure seems that booking directly via the Internet is the only way to fly.
And by the way, where was Harinder Takhar, Minister of Small Business and Consumer Services, under whose ministry TICO exists? No leaders. Just a bunch of bureaucrats.
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