February 22, 2012
Michelle Greenwood, corporate lawyer, and Mark C. Woolgar, corporate lawyer, Woolgar, Van Wiechen, Ketcheson and Ducoffe LLP; Brenda Carter, CMP, President, MPI Toronto Chapter.
MPI Toronto Chapter held a special Town Hall meeting on Tuesday to provide planners the opportunity to speak with a lawyer regarding the Travel Industry Act, 2002 (TIA) and The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO).
TICO is the self-managed, not-for-profit corporation, responsible for administration and enforcement of the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002 and Ontario Regulation 26/05 on behalf of the Ontario government.
The TIA was brought into the spotlight recently after online reports of a recent Court of Appeals ruling in the 2007 David Gray case.
Gray, who operated All Sport Accommodations (what would be considered a site selection company), was found to be acting as a travel agent, negotiating discount rates with hotels and supplying hotel recommendations to minor-league sports teams in Ontario.
The Travel Industry Act, 2002 clearly states that if you sell travel services (overnight accommodation and transportation) provided by another company in the province of Ontario, you are a travel agent.
If you are a travel agent, you must be registered with the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) or you’re breaking the law and could face fines up to $50K and nearly two years jail time (or up to $250K if incorporated), regardless if the travel services are for leisure or business travel.
David Gray was not registered with TICO and, after three levels of court, lost the case.
According to Mark C. Woolgar, a corporate lawyer at WVKD law firm in Toronto, the TIA’s definition of “a sale of travel services” includes recommendations and travel consultation – something independent meeting planners, third-party planners, site selection companies and association management companies do regularly.
As such, these types of planners and companies in Ontario are required to register with TICO or risk facing the aforementioned fines and jail time.
The mood in the room was fearful based on this new found confusion from the recent online reports around this issue. Some were infuriated upon learning that the definition of a travel agent included independent meeting planners.
Woolgar stated those who offer travel consultative services (corporate planners are exempt) should either register with TICO – a long and expensive process – or become affiliated with a travel agency through a written agreement and pass the TICO exam.
Stay tuned to MeetingsCanada.com for more information on this topic following the closed-door Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada (BEICC)’s meeting on February 28.
To learn more about becoming TICO-certified, click here.