biometrics

Safety advice: a liability issue for travel agents?

Terror alerts, disease and catastrophes continue to plague the world. How much negative information are you supposed to share with your clients? And, if you fail to share this information, are you legally responsible if something goes wrong?

 

In South Africa, travel agents are legally obliged to divulge certain information to their clients, according to Advocate Louis Nel. He told ASATA that it’s not impossible for a travel agent to be sued for negligence if they fail to share important information.

 

Nel warns: “Mainly, the travel agent owes passengers a duty of care and such duty of care includes any dangers that the travel agent should be aware of. In the case of a breach of that duty, liability may well arise.”

 

According to Nel, the Consumer Protection Act also places a distinct obligation to disclose all the dangers, as well as any unusual threats at a destination, to passengers. “This disclosure must take place as early as possible. This means at the time of making enquiries, and not once the booking has been confirmed,” he says.

 

This topic was recently also raised in Travel Weekly, where US industry lawyer Mark Pestronk explained that in general, agents “should warn about a destination danger that your agency knew about or should have known about but the client would not ordinarily have known about.”

 

Lawyer Rose A. Hache added it would be safe to adopt the following standard of what to share with clients: “What would a reasonably prudent businessperson in the travel agency industry know?”. She said: “You can be enthusiastic about a particular destination, but if you know something that you would want to know prior to visiting a destination, I would share it.”

 

That range of knowledge extends to travel industry-specific knowledge, for example, a supplier’s probable insolvency or the spread of a tropical disease in a particular region. Things like that should be disclosed.

 

Some practical steps, such as including disclaimers on your agency website and requiring clients to sign a contract with disclaimers, can help protect travel agents in the case legal issues crop up.

 

The best way for travel agents to share potential dangers or destination issues with their clients is in writing. Says Nel: “It is best to make sure that the traveller briefing is very comprehensive, that all the terms and conditions as well as indemnity are discussed and that everything is signed.”

Travel agents should also have clear disclaimers on their websites. Nel explains: “This can be a combination of comprehensive terms and conditions as well as an indemnity. The latter is especially important for adventure tourism. This should go hand in hand with the traveller briefing and insurance.”

faq

Default Insurance Programme (DIP) scheme for BSP Southern Africa

Default Insurance Programme (DIP) scheme for BSP Southern Africa (The Republic of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland) 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

  1. What is a DIP?

A Default Insurance Programme is an insurance policy that covers multiple declared agents with a maximum coverage for all agents as defined in the policy. The DIP Provider is an independent third party entity other than a bank that guarantees payment to Members or Airlines through the policy in the event of a payment default by an agent.

  1. Can any Insurance Company offer the DIP in the market?

IATA has established criteria for consistent evaluation and approval of providers and provider products.  No provider or provider products will be accepted for the purpose of an Agent meeting the Local Financial Criteria (LFC) unless such Provider or Provider Product has been approved by IATA in accordance to Resolution 850p.

IATA will conduct an annual review of the provider and product to ensure continued adherence of the current requirements.

  1. Who is the approved Provider of the DIP in BSP ZA?

Insurer:

Lloyd’s of London

DIP Local Representative:

Jack & Seach (Pty) Ltd – Jack & Seach Insurance Brokers are a Licensed Financial Service Provider 8260.

  1. Who can join the DIP scheme?

Any active Accredited Travel Agent participating in the BSP Southern Africa (The Republic of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland) can apply to join the DIP scheme. The insurance company as a third party has specific requirements for acceptance / rejection of an Agents application subject to compliance with the insurance terms and conditions.

  1. How do I apply to join the DIP scheme?

You need to contact:

Mrs C. Brogden on 011 658 1676 or charmaine@jackandseach.co.za of Jack and Seach Brokers (Pty) Limited

  1. How will the Premiums be billed and collected?

The premiums will be collected by the Insurance Company, please contact the Insurance Company for all details related to premiums collection and billing.

IATA will provide Jack & Seach with the monthly cash ticket sales.  These figures will be available to Jack & Seach by no later than the 10th of the new month.

Jack & Seach do not have direct access to any BSP information.

  1. What would IATA require from me should I Join the scheme?

Jack & Seach will provide IATA with a Membership Certificate once the Agency’s cover is approved under DIP scheme in order to update our records and confirm fulfilment of the requirement for submission of Financial Security.

  1. What should I do if I wish to stop using the DIP and revert back to a Bank Guarantee?

You need to raise a query through the IATA Customer Service Portal (http://www.iata.org/customer-portal/Pages/index.aspx) to indicate your wish to replace the DIP with a Bank Guarantee. This will also include the confirmation of IATA requirement of the Financial Security amount requested.

The Hub will confirm the required amount of Financial Security as per the Local Financial Criteria.  Once the hub receives the original Bank Guarantee, we will update the records on the system and we will send a notification to the DIP provider confirming the agents’ decision of suspension of using the DIP in order to stop the premium collection.

  1. What is the difference between the DIP and Bank Guarantee?

A Default Insurance Programme means one insurance policy to cover multiple declared agents with a maximum coverage for all agents as defined in the policy.

A Bank Guarantee means a guarantee issued by a bank ensuring that the liabilities of the agent will be met in case of a default; limit sum (BG amount) defined.

The agent has a choice between the approved two types of Financial Security currently available in BSP Southern Africa.

  1. Can I provide IATA with two different types of Financial Security (DIP and Bank Guarantee)?

IATA will send you the total amount of the required Financial Security as per the published Local Financial Criteria.

Agents have the option to provide a DIP, or a Bank Guarantee, or a combination of both – subject to ensuring that the total amount of the provided Financial Security covers the Financial Security required by IATA.

  1. What is the cost of the DIP?

The DIP cost is R11,00 per cash ticket sold (cash/EFT/Debit Card).  The DIP does not cover credit card sales.  The DIP does not attract VAT.

  1. What is the benefit of the DIP?

The main benefit is that without a bank guarantee your balance sheet is not encumbered.  The bank guarantee will be held indefinitely with IATA, whereas the aim of the DIP is to do away with bank guarantees entirely based on the success of the scheme.

  1. How does the Agent recover the cost of the DIP?

The Agent passes the cost of the DIP to his client at R11,00 per cash ticket sold.  The Agent cannot process it on as a premium payment but as an admin cost.

  1. How long does it take to join the DIP

The Agent completes the application form and emails it to charmaine@jackandseach.co.za

The information is sent to IATA for verification.  Once verification confirmed the Agent will receive a Membership Certificate from Jack & Seach confirming Agent’s membership.  Jack & Seach will notify IATA of Agent’s membership.

  1. Why is there mention of a renewal date of 1 October in the Membership Certificate?

IATA is the Insured of the Lloyd’s Policy and not the Agent.  October is the renewal date of the policy between IATA and Lloyds. This is purely administrative and has no impact on the Agent.

  1. Why must the Agent carry a Bank Guarantee and DIP?

In the case where the Bank Guarantee value exceeds the ZAR 5M cover, IATA will request the balance to be carried in the form of a bank guarantee.

  1. What are the Lloyds Registration details?

BRIT is the Underwriter who forms part of the Lloyd’s Syndicate.  Lloyds is not a registered company but a syndicate of companies.

  1. Is the Lloyds Bank Guarantee an international guarantee?

Harrison’s Attorneys was appointed as the local custodian of the bank guarantee.  The bank guarantee will be paid out in South Africa in ZAR.  There is no foreign payment made.

  1. Who is the beneficiary of the Bank Guarantee?

Brit Lloyd’s Syndicate No. 2987 is the beneficiary of the bank guarantee.  This is a replacement / performance guarantee which replace the previous guarantee held in favour of IATA.

  1. Is “special wording” needed for the application of the Bank Guarantee?

We have templates available to assist the bank with the drawing up of the bank guarantee.

  1. What is the time frame of the Bank Guarantee?

The bank needs to validate the guarantee for a 12 month period.

  1. What happens after 12 months?

The idea of the DIP is to do away with the bank guarantee entirely.  However, the performance of the scheme is very much dependent on the success of the first year and the build-up of funds in the scheme.  The scheme will be reviewed by the Underwriter after 12 months.

  1. Do we replace our current Bank Guarantee with the DIP

No, all bank guarantees already in place will need to remain in place with the exception of the change of beneficiary to Brit Lloyd’s Syndicate No. 2987.

  1. How does the DIP work?

The DIP in an insurance put in place by IATA to protect itself from any form of default by the Travel Agent.  The Agent pays the premium based on the amount of cash tickets sold. The Agency will be covered for R5,000,000.00.

  1. What are the Travel Agents options with choosing the DIP scheme as their financial security type

There are 2 options available to the Agent in the form of a bank guarantee and/or DIP insurance.

  1. If the travel agent does not already have an existing Bank Guarantee how does one get approval to join the DIP scheme?

Complete the application form by emailing charmaine@jackandseach.co.za

  1. What are the requirements & details needed from the travel agent to join the DIP?

The Agent must be an accredited IATA agent currently active on the BSP ZA.

  1. Will there be a quotation given to the travel agent to cover financial security?

The cost is R11,00 per cash ticket sold.  IATA will provide Jack and Seach with the monthly cash ticket figures.

  1. What happens to the current Bank Guarantee in place if agent joins the DIP scheme? 

Once the Agent is confirmed on the DIP scheme, IATA will release the bank guarantee back to the Agent.  The Agent must return the bank guarantee to the bank and ask for a replacement guarantee in favour of Brit Lloyd’s Syndicate No. 2987.

  1. If the travel agent signs up for the DIP programme, will they be invoiced and debited at the end of each month an amount of R11 excl VAT per cash air ticket issued on their BSP, and any existing guarantee that IATA has will remain in force for the first year 2016. 

The bank guarantee must be re-issued in favour of Brit Lloyd’s syndicate No. 2987

  1. Should the DIP be successful after the first year and a suitable fund be established for the ZA BSP area, then the DIP will likely continue and take the place of IATA guarantees completely.

Correct.

TBCSA tackles ORTIA airport queues

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has compiled a number of recommendations to address the issue of airport queues as a result of the implementation of the Amended Immigration Regulations.

To ease the congestion at airports, especially at OR Tambo International Airport, in the short term, the TBCSA recommends the creation of a positive and welcoming ambiance at immigration zones.  This could be through the use of ushers (thus employing young people to welcome tourists) to help direct the visitors to the correct immigration queues; to provide them with refreshments such as water; and also with relevant information pertaining to their visit and destination to South Africa.

The TBCSA further also suggests the setting-up of video infotainment and entertainment; and having kiosks where tourists can buy snacks and other beverages whilst waiting in queues.

The TBCSA and SA Tourism have offered to cover the financial costs of the provision of ushers through the Welcome Campaign programme and also to assist in securing sponsors and/or partners to provide the suggested refreshments (water) if needed.

Furthermore, the Council proposes the adoption of a system that was used during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, where airport immigration services enlisted SAPS assistance.  The idea is that immigration officials who currently work in the departure section (emigration zones) could be moved to the arrivals section (immigration zone), thus increasing the staff capacity in the arrivals section and alleviating congestion.

In the medium to long-term TBCSA urges the DHA to work speedily with National Treasury, Public Service and Administration and Tourism to resolve the procedural and budget issues pertaining to allocation of personnel.

TBCSA’s recommendations were presented during a meeting of the National Tourism Minister with Captains of Industry on the 9th of November 2016.

All you need to know about BSP

Does BSP still have you baffled? ASATA has compiled a short document with everything you need to know, from what BSP is exactly, to how it works and BSPLink. 

What is BSP?

  • Global system
  • Facilitates and simplifies the selling, reporting and remitting procedures of IATA Accredited Passenger Sales Agents
  • Improves financial control and cash flow for BSP Airlines
  • In 2015, IATA’s BSP processed $230.3 billion. 

How it works?

The central point through which data and funds flow between travel agents and airlines.

Agents make one single payment to the BSP (remittance), covering sales on all BSP Airlines. The BSP makes one consolidated payment to each airline, covering sales made by all agents in the country/region.

  1. Preparation to sell on behalf of airlines

Before an agent can begin selling on behalf of airlines, the following must take place:

  • A range of electronic ticket numbers are assigned to the Agent.
  • The Airline assigns ticketing authority to the Agent to allow issue of ETs.
  • Agents need to have access to an IATA-approved ticketing system such as a Global Distribution System (GDS).
  1. Reporting by Agents

The agent reports all sales and refunds at the end of the reporting period. This is done electronically, through BSPlink. All transactions are forwarded to a central BSP Data Processing Centre (DPC).

  1. Processing by BSP

The Data Processing Centre:

  • Captures the tickets and refunds information from data files that have been transmitted by the GDS/ticketing system or other automated system such as BSPlink.
  • Processes all relevant data and produce an “Agents Billing Analysis” for each agent. This analysis is compiled from the information of one or more reporting periods.
  • Forwards a statement of sales made by Agents to each BSP Airline. This statement is compiled from the information of one or more reporting periods.
  • Monitors ET ranges and provide replenishment as necessary.
  1. Payment

The Agent makes just one net remittance covering all its BSP transactions for that period for all BSP Airlines. The BSP preferred method of payment is by direct debit.

  1. Follow up by Airlines

The accounting department of each airline audits incoming data and addresses debit/credit accounting memoranda (ADM/ACM) to agents as necessary.

BSP Link

IATA provides services for the settlement of financial transactions between travel agents and the airlines. This service consolidates the amounts owed by each agent and the amounts due to each airline and enables the settlement to be made through one single financial transfer for each participant.

BSP link is an innovative, internet-based system, which facilitates these interactions and exchanges of information between all participants in the Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP).

 

  • Easier and faster access to ticketing information, no longer do you have to wait for the distribution of paper outputs.  All the information you need is available 24 hours a day in your office
  • Less filing, all the information you need is electronically stored
  • Reduced printing and mailing costs, transactions are conducted over the internet
  • Less opportunity for errors, automated processes reduce manual errors
  • Easy access to reference data, through electronic document search.
visa europe

Changes to Australian visas

The Australian High Commission in South Africa has announced there have been some changes to the Australian visa process in South Africa, including the fact that some visa applications will need to be done online from 19 November onwards.

The High Commission is also in talks with TLSContact to improving services in South Africa by increasing the number of available appointments and enhancing the call centre.

Visa applications move online

As part of its Future Directions for Streamlined Visa Processing, the Australian government has announced it will introduce new visa subclasses for temporary activity from 19 November 2016. Applications for these visas must be lodged online through an individualised immiAccount. No paper temporary activity visa applications will be accepted by TLScontact or the Australian High Commission.

TLScontact will also stop accepting the following applications from close of business on Wednesday 16 November 2016:

Subclass 401 Temporary Work (Long Stay Activity) visa

Subclass 402 Training and Research visa

Subclass 416 Special Program visa

Subclass 420 Temporary Work (Entertainment) visa

Subclass 488 Superyacht Crew visa

 

Further information regarding the changes can be found at http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/temporary-activity-visa-changes#

TLScontact improves service

The Australian High Commission has also advised that it is working with TLScontact to improve the ease of scheduling appointments.

A number of travel agents have reported they have been unable to make appointments at some centres or get through to TLScontact via telephone and email.

The Australian High Commission encourages all applicants and agents to book appointments online via https://au.tlscontact.com. TLScontact have increased the number of appointments available each day at all South African VACs, which has resolved availability issues. Furthermore, TLS have introduced a live operator option on the Call Centre service and is working on reducing wait times.

 

Please remember Standard Processing Times

The number of visa applications received by the Australian High Commission Pretoria triples during September, October and November as applicants seek to travel during the holiday period.

The current processing times for visitor visas is 30 days. Travel agents should advise their clients not to make non-refundable travel/airline bookings in anticipation of the grant of a visa within this timeframe. The Australian High Commission recommends clients lodge their visa application well ahead of their proposed travel dates and only finalise any travel arrangements after the visa process has been completed.

We are able to expedite visa processing where there is an urgent need to travel due to compassionate or compelling circumstances, please refer to: http://southafrica.embassy.gov.au/pret/Immi_Urgent_Travel.html