Updated: Feb 13, 2019
In the sometimes unnecessarily complicated world of travel purchases, what is TICO and why should it matter in your vacation planning?
Not just for travelers from Ontario
Before I get carried away, know that the consumer protections provided by TICO are available to anyone who makes a travel purchase through a TICO registered, Ontario-based travel business. It doesn’t matter where you live.
What is TICO?
TICO is an abbreviation of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario. An organisation founded in 1997 for the purposes of regulating travel sales for residents of Ontario and in more modern times, for those who’ve made purchase online from a business based in Ontario.
Again, because Odyssean Travel is a travel business headquartered in Ontario, we fall under their jurisdiction even if you live in the US!
Only a small handful of states and provinces across North America have such oversight into a rather complex industry. As a consumer, you’re not really going to have to worry about the costs or bureaucracy stemming from such systems, you just get to benefit from the protections and measures to ensure a fair, transparent set of rules for travel sales.
In Canada, only three provinces have such a consumer protection platform: BC, Quebec, and of course, Ontario. In the US the states with additional provisions are California, Florida, New York, and Washington.
What does TICO do?
Officially, the mandate for TICO is "to support the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services in maintaining a fair, safe, and informed marketplace as it relates to the Travel Industry Act, 2002" (credit TICO).
What does it mean for my trip?
It means that travel purchases must be advertised in a fair way, that pricing should be “all-in” so much as the taxes and fees will be listed clearly as part of the immediate total and not added in after you’ve committed to a purchase.
It also means that you’re supposed to have a clear indication of what the fees and penalties might be for changes or whether your trip is refundable or not.
For an exhaustive list, visit here
In a nut shell, TICO encourages the travel industry to provide a more clear, consistent experience.
The Compensation Fund
In addition to oversight of the sale of travel, TICO also administers an industry funded trust account for consumer protections.
Anyone who purchases travel through an Ontario registered business may file a claim against the fund when they did not receive their paid travel services because of bankruptcy or insolvency.
Meaning that if you’re on your vacation and your airline goes bankrupt, for example, you may have an additional level of assistance should your travel insurance or credit card purchase protection not provide recourse to recover your losses.
It is not travel insurance
Remember that the fund isn’t there to provide medical coverage of any variety or to act in lieu of a robust travel protection policy.
Another recommendation for Canadians headed out of the country is to register your trip with the Canadian government before you depart.
What else is not covered?
If you booked directly with an airline or cruise line, you may not be covered. Airlines and cruise lines are rarely registered as Ontario businesses and your direct purchase may not be covered.
The coverage also only extends to bankruptcy among airlines, cruises, travel agencies, travel websites, and tour operators.
Who pays for TICO or the fund?
At this time neither TICO nor the Compensation Fund are drawn from consumer contributions.
TICO is a not-for-profit entity, paid for primarily through the collection of registration fees by travel businesses and those registrants selling travel in Ontario.
The Fund is collected as a very small percentage of travel sales in the province, remitted from those 2,400 travel businesses on a semi-annual basis.
What does it take for a travel advisor to become a registrant?
Individuals selling travel in Ontario must register with TICO and pass an exam as either a Travel Counsellor or Supervisor/Manager (of travel sales). The study modules should take about two weeks to complete and culminate in a proctored exam covering topics from TICO and its role in Ontario travel sales, obligations to consumers, and the Travel Industry Act, 2002, among others.
Although we primarily sell travel online or deliver our services outside of an office, all of our travel advisors are current TICO registrants.
Have a question about TICO or want to learn more? Comment below or contact us now.