I'm not sure how many are aware that I was a retail travel agent for many years before I started organizing group tours. I recently wrote an exam which is compulsory for anyone giving travel advice and selling travel. The purpose of the study program leading up to the exam was to ensure that there was a level of professionalism and an awareness of the details of the Travel Industry Act and the Travel Industry Compensation Fund of Ontario.
Only three Canadian provinces (Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia) have similar acts which protect and reimburse travellers if an end supplier--a wholesaler, hotel, cruise line, airline--does not provide the services for which the consumer has paid. It is therefore important that a traveller books with a registered agent in one of these three provinces, although it is not necessary to be a resident. The fund is largely supported by payments from travel agencies and travel wholesalers. The amounts levied are based on a percentage of their sales and have to be remitted to the fund twice a year.
Compensation will only be paid to travellers after they have sought and did not receive reimbursement from a credit card or travel insurance company. It must be for the non-provision of travel services due to the bankruptcy or insolvency of a registrant, or the failure of an airline or cruise line end supplier. While such incidences rarely occur, it is fortunate that such potential support does exist. In the recent bankruptcy of the tour company, Conquest Tours, TICO was instrumental in ensuring return flights were arranged for stranded travellers. The limit for compensation from the fund is a maximum of $5000 CAD for those who qualify.
I passed the exam!