Regulations and Precautionary Measures
If consumers book trips or tours directly with an airline or hotel, they should be aware that only trips booked with registered travel agents and travel wholesalers are covered under the Travel Industry Act. The advantages of using a registered travel agent or wholesaler may be for ease, knowledgeability, client satisfaction and guarantees, but also because travel agents and wholesalers follow various requirements.
All travel agents and wholesalers must be registered with the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (“TICO”), which is Ontario’s travel regulator, and should be registered with other industry-led membership based organizations such the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (“ACTA”), and consumers must ensure that they are dealing with registered travel agents or tour operators.
TICO registered travel agencies are required to advise travellers of the availability of trip cancellation insurance and out-of-province health insurance at the time of the booking. Travellers should seriously consider purchasing both:
- Adequate medical insurance for out of province coverage, because the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) only covers part of the expenses in case of an illness or accident (e.g. uncovered costs include ambulance costs, prescription drugs, dental emergencies, and emergency room or in-patient services); and,
- Trip cancellation insurance that permits the cancellation of charges from airlines, cruise lines, hotels, and tour companies.
It is the responsibility of travellers to check the terms and conditions of their booking prior to confirming their travel services online or in-person with the travel agent. Travellers must read and understand the terms and conditions of the travel services, and the contractual clauses regarding cancellation, changes to bookings, and refundability. A copy of all transactions, confirmations, and correspondences must also be kept as proof of the booking, in case travellers must refer back to them.
Claims and Complaints
Ontario has regulations that registered members of the travel industry must follow, and TICO allows access to the Travel Industry Compensation Fund that reimburses payments made for services that are not provided due to complications during trips (e.g. inadequate transportation or accommodations) or the bankruptcy or insolvency of agents or suppliers including airlines or cruise lines.
Consumers that want to file a complaint against a registered travel retailer or travel wholesaler that is located and operating in Ontario should contact the business or contact TICO to file a complaint form against the travel agency. It should be noted that TICO does not deal with complaints against airlines or complaints relating to timeshares and travel membership companies.
Travel Industry Act, 2002 at https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/02t30
Consumer Protection Ontario – Booking a Trip: Your Rights at https://www.ontario.ca/page/booking-trip-your-rights
ACTA Consumer Protection Funds at https://www.acta.ca/consumer-protection-funds
TICO Travel Tips at https://www.tico.ca/consumers/travel-tips
How to File a Claim with TICO at https://www.tico.ca/consumers/how-to-file-a-claim.html Contacting TICO with a Complaint at https://www.tico.ca/consumers/file-a-complaint