Travel Industry People

After a long search, retail veteran Paradis tapped as ACTA President

Wendy ParadisMISSISSAUGA — Incoming ACTA President Wendy Paradis will start her new role on May 9 backed by 30 years of experience in the travel, tourism and association service industries.

Her appointment reflects the board’s fundamental belief that the trade association continue to serve the retail sector as the conduit and voice in lobby, advocacy, education and promotion for those who practice their profession in travel agencies, said Mary Jane Hiebert, Chair of ACTA Board of Directors.  “Wendy is an inspired choice by our board, and one we are confident the team at ACTA and our members will enthusiastically support,” said Hiebert.

Upon accepting the position Paradis said she was honoured and excited to serve as ACTA’s President. “I have deep respect for the important role travel agencies play in creating exceptional experiences for Canadian travellers, and look forward to working closely with the ACTA team, board of directors and members across the country to continue building a vibrant and successful Canadian travel agency community.”

Paradis has held several leadership positions where she led the strategic initiatives within top travel organizations including Eaton’s Travel, Marlin Travel, The Thomas Cook Group and CAA Travel. Wendy has worked in every facet of travel agency sales and operations inclusive of leisure, corporate, and conference services. She has also experienced first-hand, many progressive positions in the travel agency community such as travel agent, travel agency manager, national manager of corporate travel, regional director and vice president of travel sales and operations.

Prior to her new position as ACTA President, she served as Senior Vice President of OTEC (Ontario Tourism Education Corporation).

Paradis will hit the ground running with several issues on the go, including ACTA’s opposition to the proposed increase to the Compensation Fund rates. Last month the TICO Board of Directors advised registrants that they have proposed an increase to the Compensation Fund rates as of July 1. This increase will see Fund contributions for Ontario Travel Agencies jump from $0.15 to $0.25 per thousand dollars of travel sales. TICO says the increase is necessary as they project an operating deficit and a risk for the Compensation Fund to fall below the targeted balance of $20 million.

Through consultations with ACTA’s TICO Board appointees and in response to the number of phone calls and emails ACTA has received from our members, the organization says it strongly opposes the proposal. “We feel it is outrageous to think the retail industry can afford an increase of up to 66%. While we understand that there is a need to maintain the Compensation Fund level, there must be alternatives to achieve this with means other than a significant rate increase at the onus of our members’ bottom line.”

ACTA noted that the proposed increase is “substantial” for any operating budget to absorb. ACTA members in Ontario have warned that after a dreadful winter, a slowing economy and the low Canadian dollar that sales may look like they are trending up but the reality is that margins are trending down. These same members have suggested that TICO should look at managing their operational expenses as any private sector service would and commit to seriously evaluating a consumer pay model, said ACTA.

“We feel it is our duty as your association to work on this issue under the first of our four strategic pillars, to ‘advocate in the interests of the retail travel industry to government, suppliers and organizations through one strong voice’,” said ACTA. “We will continue to look after our members and defend against such unfair burdens on the industry. We will continue to be professional and  leverage ACTA’s TICO board appointees to push the voice and feedback of our members up to the decision makers and influencers of TICO.”

ACTA is asking members to continue to send comments to ACTA “to ensure your voice is heard”. ACTA will be forwarding a submission to TICO opposing this increase on behalf of ACTA members by April 15.