ATHOC Update

Success for the Australian Timeshare industry regarding Consultation paper 212 with separate submissions made to ASIC and Treasury and the Joint Parliamentary Committee between September 2013 and April 2015.

Timeshare in Australia is regulated as a financial services product; however the Federal Government has previously recognised that the timeshare industry operates one product per company which is greatly different to the financial planning industry. This recognition was evidenced when the timeshare industry was granted a carve out under the FOFA conflict of remuneration in March 2012.

Consultation paper 212 advised in general that: The educational level requirements for all financial advisers who provide personal advice on Tier 1 products to retail clients should be increased. This includes financial planners working in planning businesses and superannuation funds. It also includes stockbrokers. From 1 July 2016, when accountants are required t hold a limited AFS licence, it would also apply to accountants.

The mandatory minimum training standard should increase t a minimum degree qualification in a relevant filed. Relevant fields include financial planning, finance, business, accounting or commerce and that any relevant degree should cover the knowledge and skills identified in CP212.

Great Outcome With An Exemption for timeshare

The draft legislation states:
1.22 The new law exempts relevant providers who provide advice on timeshare schemes from the education standards. These persons only need to meet the education standards that apply to non-relevant financial products. [Schedule 1, item 7, subsections 921C(4) and 921D(2)].

1.23 The exemption reflects the fact that timeshare arrangements are inherently different from other relevant financial products. Timeshare interests are not sold as financial investments that generate a return, but as lifestyle products or prepayments for holidays.

1.24 The exemption does not apply to the ethical requirements in new subdivision 8B. This means that persons who are authorised to provide personal advice on timeshare schemes to retail clients must comply with the Code developed by the body and subscribe to a scheme.

Example 1.5: Exemption for timeshare schemes
A, B and C sell interests in timeshare schemes. B and C also have second jobs. B works in a bank and provides advice on basic banking products. C works for a financial advice firm and provides advice on relevant financial products.

A and B are not required to meet the new education standards because the only relevant financial product that they give advice on is interests in timeshare schemes and timeshare schemes are exempted from the new standards.

C must meet the new education standards because he also provides advice on relevant financial products other than timeshare.
A, B and C must all comply with the Code developed by the body and subscribe to a monitoring and enforcement scheme.

The journey for this has run across two and a half years. A special thank you goes to Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific and their Lobbyist for helping us achieve this excellent outcome.

International tourism at record high

Australia’s world-class tourism industry has experienced a record-breaking year with significant increases in international visitor arrivals and tourism expenditure.

“The Government released Tourism Research Australia’s State of the Industry 2015 report which shows international tourism leads the way, with inbound arrivals increasing by 6.6 per cent to a record 6.6 million arrivals in 2014-15,” Senator Colbeck said.

“Arrivals from New Zealand lead the way with 1.2 million inbound tourists. However, both China (up 21.7 per cent to 864,000 visitors) and India (up 19.9 per cent to 207,000) continue to drive growth in inbound arrivals.

“International tourism expenditure also reached a new high of $33.4 billion in 2014-15 following growth of 10 per cent which is the strongest expenditure recorded for a financial year since the Sydney Olympic Games.”

Senator Colbeck said the report also shows Australia’s domestic tourism is thriving – 83.2million overnight trips were recorded last financial year which is the highest on record.

“Overnight visitor expenditure increased 4 per cent to a total of $55.4 billion and total overnight expenditure increased 6.3 per cent to $88.8 billion.

“Furthermore, the total value of the tourism investment pipeline increased by a net $4.3 billion to $53.7 billion in 2014.”

Senator Colbeck said the report gives a positive overview of Australia’s tourism industry and provides industry with increased confidence in the future.

“Since the Government identified Tourism as one the five National Investment Priorities, we have facilitated increased tourism infrastructure investment, built focused international marketing and embarked on visa reforms to make it easier for international tourists to come to Australia.

“This report provides further evidence that we are on track to reach the 2020 target of increasing overnight expenditure to between $115billion and $140billion by the year 2020,” he said.

Recent reports have also supported these positive results, including TRA’s Tourism Forecasts 2015, which indicated strong growth over the next decade, and the Australian Tourism Labour Force Report 2015-2020 which identified opportunity for increasing employment in the sector.

The Australian Tourism Labour Force Report found that an additional 123,000 workers, including 60,000 skilled workers, will be needed to meet visitor demand by 2020.

However, Senator Colbeck noted that there is no room for complacency if we are to meet our 2020 targets. Continued focus on international aviation capacity; labour and skills shortages, infrastructure and visa reform is needed for us to reach our potential.

“This new report continues the trend of positive tourism numbers under this Government and we will remain focussed on embracing opportunities and reducing inhibitors into the future.

The full report can be viewed at: www.tra.gov.au

Classic Holidays Honoured for 35 Years in Gold Coast Tourism Industry

Gold Coast-based Resort and Club Management company, Classic Holidays, has been recognised for its 35 year contribution to the Gold Coast tourism industry.

The accolade was presented to Classic Holidays by Mayor Tom Tate during the Gold Coast Tourism Annual General Meeting held at the QT Gold Coast in Surfers Paradise in November.

Classic Holidays, CEO Ramy Filo, said the company was proud to have been involved with Gold Coast Tourism for over three decades. “Classic Holidays started in 1978, so we have been part of the development of this iconic industry since the early days,” said Mr Filo.

“During that time we have grown from a small Gold Coast company into a global operation now responsible for the employment of over 1,000 staff, with our Head Office located in Varsity Lakes and 7 resort properties under management on the Gold Coast.
“As the timeshare capital of Australia, we have long shared Gold Coast Tourism’s vision for promoting the Gold Coast as a favourite holiday destination for Australians and people all over the world.

“It’s a fantastic industry to be a part of, and we thank Gold Coast Tourism for this honour.”

Classic Holidays joined wildlife attraction, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, in receiving a 35 Year Recognition Award at the AGM.
ULTIQA Lifestyle Wins Silver and Bronze at the Queensland Tourism Industry Awards.

The Queensland Tourism Awards have been operating for 30 years. The Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of tourism operators across the State. The Awards cover 29 categories and provide the opportunity to publicly acknowledge and showcase Queensland’s finest tourism operators across the areas of attractions, events, tour and transport, accommodation, restaurants, culture, ecotourism, marketing and more.

This was ULTIQA’s first year entering the awards and were excited to walk away with two awards for their properties.

Congratulations ULTIQA

The Registry Collection® Adds Pacific Region Vacation Options, Welcomes Four WorldMark South Pacific Club by Wyndham Resorts

Luxury accommodations at four select resorts join approximately 200 affiliated properties on six continents as part of global exchange program

The Registry Collection® program, the world’s largest luxury exchange program, recently welcomed four Wyndham Vacation Ownership resorts in the Pacific locations of Sydney, New Zealand’s South Island, Tasmania and Fiji, bringing exciting new destination options to its nearly 32,000 global exchange members.

“Members of The Registry Collection have told us that they want holiday options in the Pacific region, and we are very happy to be able to offer them these spectacular four WorldMark South Pacific Club resorts,” said Jonathan Mills, managing director, RCI Asia Pacific, which operates The Registry Collection. “Our affiliation with Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific will give our members the opportunity to explore the vibrant cities, national parks, and tranquil beaches of the area while enjoying the award-winning service Wyndham is known for.”

The four resorts are flagship Presidential resorts of the WorldMark South Pacific Club offering luxuriously appointed Presidential Suites in premium locations.

Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific Wanaka is located in a spectacular region on New Zealand’s South Island that boasts awe-inspiring natural wonders including Mount Aspiring National Park, Rob Roy Glacier and The Clutha River. Nestled on a quiet, tree-lined street, the resort is only a short stroll from Lake Wanaka and within two kilometres from the heart of the village.

Set in a prime beachfront location in southern Tasmania, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific Seven Mile Beach offers a relaxing beach holiday with the convenience of being only a 20-minute drive from Tasmania’s capital city, Hobart. Every aspect of this eco-friendly resort is inspired by its natural surroundings and designed with these elements in mind. From the surrounding region’s rich history to its striking natural wonders, Tasmania is an intriguing island that blends heritage and lifestyle with scenery and culture.

Fiji is an exotic destination filled with culture, beautiful beaches and clear turquoise waters. Located on the beachfront is Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific Denarau Island, an oasis that can be ideal for sipping cocktails, enjoying authentic Fijian culture and letting life’s pressures float away. It is easy to relax and enjoy Fiji’s laid-back pace with the resort’s spacious apartments. The resort offers outstanding facilities including a large lagoon-style swimming pool, an outdoor spa, a swim-up pool bar with wet and dry seating, a kids’ club, direct beach access and a Mexican themed restaurant.

Located in Australia’s largest city, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific Sydney offers spacious accommodations in the heart of it all. This stylish, modern property is within easy walking distance to all major attractions and just a short walk from Hyde Park, Oxford Street and the popular restaurant precincts of Darling Harbour and Chinatown. As one of Australia’s best-loved holiday destinations, Sydney has a plethora of activities and attractions for families and couples, including the world-famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

As part of the agreement WorldMark South Pacific Club’s Privileges Platinum members and 100 Club members will receive membership to The Registry Collection program.

“Bringing these four WorldMark South Pacific Club by Wyndham properties into The Registry Collection program’s luxury exchange network is a thrilling prospect for our Privileges Platinum and 100 Club members, who, in turn, can now access even more amazing vacation options all over the world, adding value to their ownership,” said Barry Robinson, president and managing director, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific. “We look forward to welcoming members of The Registry Collection to our properties, and sharing some of the best that the Pacific region has to offer.”

For more information, visit TheRegistryCollection.com or TRCAffiliates.com.

ACCC Tells Airbnb and eDream to Price Correctly
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has accepted court enforceable undertakings from Airbnb Ireland (Airbnb) and Vacaciones eDreams, SL (eDreams) following concerns that the companies made online price representations to consumers in Australia that were in breach of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The ACCC considers that Airbnb, since November 2012, and eDreams, from January to December 2014, engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and made misleading representations by failing to adequately disclose to consumers in Australia particular mandatory fees on key pages of one or more of their online booking platforms.

The ACCC considers there were occasions where Airbnb failed to adequately disclose a mandatory Service Fee and also a Cleaning Fee, where applied by an accommodation host, on Search Results pages and Accommodation Listing pages on its website, mobile site and apps accessible in Australia.

The ACCC also considers that eDreams:

• failed to adequately disclose its mandatory Service Fee and Payment Fee on certain booking pages of the eDreams mobile site and app;

• on particular pages of its website, failed to comply with the requirement to specify a single total price inclusive of the mandatory Service Fee and Payment Fee, in circumstances where those fees were quantifiable at the time of the price representations.

These matters were raised by the ACCC as part of its commitment to addressing problematic drip pricing practices during online purchasing processes across a number of business sectors including airline, ticketing, and accommodation services. Drip Pricing is where a headline price is advertised at the beginning of an online purchasing process and additional fees and charges (which may be unavoidable for consumers) are then incrementally disclosed (or ‘dripped’).

“Drip feeding consumers with information about charges can cause detriment to competition and result in consumers paying a higher price than the advertised price or spending more than they realise,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The law does not prevent traders from charging fees. However, it does require that fees are disclosed clearly to avoid consumers being misled,” Mr Sims said.

Airbnb and eDreams have each acknowledged the ACCC’s concerns and cooperated with the ACCC during its investigation. Both companies have separately undertaken to improve their pricing practices such that mandatory fees will be incorporated into prices displayed, or otherwise disclosed, on key pages during the booking flow to ensure consumers are given accurate price information ‘up front’.

Airbnb has also undertaken to establish and maintain a consumer law compliance program within the company, and eDreams has undertaken to ensure appropriate staff receives compliance training focusing on key aspects of the ACL.

Wyndham Hotel Group Expands Footprint in New Zealand with Newest Ramada Resort

Showcasing continued demand for its growing portfolio of globally recognised brands, Wyndham Hotel Group today announced the rebranding of New Zealand’s WorldMark Resort Rotorua to the new Ramada Resort Rotorua Marama.

Nestled on the tranquil shores of Lake Rotorua and the Ohau Channel, the resort operates as a mixed-use property, catering to traditional hotel guests as well as vacation owners through WorldMark South Pacific Club by Wyndham. It marks the fifth Ramada resort to open in New Zealand.

“Ramada is a highly recognisable, global brand known for offering outstanding accommodations in key destinations around the world,” said Barry Robinson, President and Managing Director, Wyndham Hotel Group South East Asia and Pacific Rim. “WorldMark Resort Rotorua has long been a favourite of vacation owners in the WorldMark South Pacific Club and it’s our belief that this rebranding will help deliver even more guests to the resort, allowing travellers from around the world the opportunity to experience all that Rotorua has to offer.”

Ideally positioned just 20 minutes from Rotorua City and three hours from Auckland, Ramada Resort Rotorua Marama boasts 78 self-contained apartments complete with fully-equipped kitchens, state-of-the-art bathrooms, outdoor decks and all the creature comforts of home including washing machines and dryers. The resort’s facilities include a private boat ramp and berth, boat parking, trout fishing, outdoor pool and spa, barbecue areas, gym and tennis court.

All Ramada resorts in New Zealand participate in Wyndham Rewards®, the simple-to-use, revolutionary loyalty program from Wyndham Hotel Group that offers members a generous points earning structure along with a flat, free-night redemption rate – the first of its kind for a major hotel rewards program.

INTERVAL INTERNATIONAL EXPANDS RESORT RECOGNITION PROGRAM WITH ELITE TIER

New Resort Designation to Showcase Most Prestigious Member Properties

Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group (Nasdaq: IILG), announced the launch of the most prestigious tier in its Resort Recognition program – Interval International Elite ResortSM. Extraordinary vacation experiences and exceptional services and amenities are what differentiate the properties selected for this special distinction.

“Interval International has been recognized as The Quality Vacation Exchange Network® since its earliest days,” said David Gilbert, Interval’s president. “As we reach our 40th anniversary in the business, the creation of the Elite recognition tier is a further reflection of our commitment to the remarkable vacations our members can enjoy through their shared ownership and exchange benefits.”

Interval was the first exchange company to introduce resort recognition to timesharing, and significantly refined its program in 2007 with the introduction of the Interval International Select Resort® and Interval International Premier Resort® designations. With the increase in high-end shared ownership properties, Interval continues the tradition with the new Elite tier that showcases the most upscale member resorts.

Currently, more than 100 affiliated properties are recognized as an Interval International Elite Resort, which is identified by a lotus icon. The Interval International Elite Resort status is awarded based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative scoring elements, including:
• A Quality Rating System (QRS) resort inspection conducted by LRA by Deloitte, a leader in the field of customer experience measurement
• Elite Qualifying Criteria (EQC) points, based on multiple combined factors from location to luxurious features and appointments at the resort
• A high Consumer Satisfaction Index (CSI) score
• Additional considerations, such as positive consumer reviews on external travel and leisure sites

Members at Interval International Elite Resorts will receive enhanced services, including specially selected luxury travel offers.

ACCORHOTELS AND MISSION AUSTRALIA FOLLOW IN ANZAC FOOTSTEPS ON GOLD COAST ‘KOKODA TRAIL’

AccorHotels teamed up with Mission Australia again in 2015 to host the fourth Race to Survive event: Kokoda Trail – a dynamic, three-day fundraising event.

On the 14th to 16th October 38 teams of four from Australia and New Zealand represented Accor and participated in the annual Race to Survive. On this year’s “Kokoda Trail” in the Gold Coast Hinterland the teams endured torrential rain, 25 km treks through rugged bushland, canoeing, obstacle courses, stretcher challenges and tug‐of‐war competitions, all in the name of fundraising and mateship while honouring the ANZAC legend which celebrates its centenary this year.

The end result saw the event raise $460,000 for Mission Australia and $40,000 for Kokoda Youth foundation in 2015. This fundraising will directly benefit Mission Australia services which includes Missionbeat, which patrols inner Sydney streets seeking out those in distress and offering them support. And Charcoal Lane, an innovative social enterprise in Melbourne which combines a restaurant with a comprehensive training program for young people who have experienced barriers to employment.

2016-01-28T19:03:42+00:00January 1st, 2016|Tags: , |