ACITA co-founder Judith Coates announces she's stepping down
ACITA co-founder Judith Coates

ACITA co-founder Judith Coates announces she’s stepping down

TORONTO — One of the three co-founders of ACITA (Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors) has announced she’s stepping down.

Judith Coates says that after two years at the helm of ACITA, she’s stepping down from her leadership role to focus on serving her clients and growing her business.

ACITA was a direct product of the pandemic and the brainchild of Coates together with co-founders and fellow travel advisors Brenda Slater and Nancy Wilson.

ACITA marked its two-year anniversary on June 28, 2022.

“We have a lot to be proud of, and have come really far as a grassroots organization,” says Coates.

“We have seen significant wins over the past two years, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the many Independent Travel Advisors who supported us by attending zoom meetings, helping out with email campaigns and working tirelessly to keep the flame going,” she added.

In the chaotic first months of the pandemic, in June 2020 ACITA began mobilizing Independent Travel Advisors to secure meetings with their elected officials and went on to facilitate 350+ meetings over Zoom, and continued to put pressure on Federal Cabinet Ministers to provide commission protection and

financial aid to Independent Travel Advisors.

As Coates notes, these ITAs are small business owners that had fallen into a policy gap because, for the most part, they are sole proprietors and didn’t qualify for funding that was

given to incorporated small businesses.

In June, 2020 Coates secured a meeting with her MP, Bruce Stanton, at the prompting of Flemming Friisdahl, founder of Coates’ host agency, The Travel Agent Next Door (TTAND).

Coates says that when she extended an invitation to have other ITAs join her, the response was overwhelming. Slater and Wilson were at that initial meeting, and soon afterwards the three ITAs collaborated to form a private Facebook group just for Independent Travel Advisors. In no time the group grew to 2,000 members.

As Coates notes, ITA’s were wondering how they would survive the travel shutdowns, and were looking for some direction on what they could do to protect themselves from lost revenues and commission clawbacks. ACITA became the vehicle to rally this growing group of ITA’s, providing the platform of Zoom meetings to inform and educate MPs on the revenue model of this sector of the travel industry.

Coates says she’s staying in the travel industry, and will focus her energies and time on serving her clients and growing her business, still with TTAND but newly branded as Wired for Travel.

“Well, travel is my passion, and I will continue to be active in the industry that I love,” said Coates.

She will also remain a passionate advocate for Independent Travel Advisors. “I have met so many amazing Independent Travel Advisors in the past two years, and we have proven that together, we are stronger, and that ‘community over competition’ wins the race.”

Coates adds: “As the ACITA motto says, ‘We Are Not Done Yet,’ and I wish the entire hard-working ACITA team and my colleagues, Brenda and Nancy, all the best in their future endeavours.”