Watchdog eyes tourism as travel opens up

·2-min read

Dodgy tourism operators are in the sights of Australia's consumer watchdog as domestic travel starts to open up.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Tuesday unveiled its enforcement and compliance priorities for 2021.

"We want to monitor forward sales practices by travel businesses, misrepresentations in advertising and marketing, particularly as we get the lifting of travel restrictions," ACCC chair Rod Sims said in Sydney.

"The providers of these services should be very clear and they should not mislead consumers over their entitlements."

The ACCC experienced a 500 per cent increase in complaints about the travel sector in 2020, Mr Sims said.

He said the watchdog has been given a "particular directive" to monitor the virus-hit aviation sector this year, as competition remains fragile.

"(We will) be closely monitoring the plans by the regional operator Rex to enter the major domestic routes," Mr Sims said.

"(This includes) those connecting Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with a particular focus on Rex's ability to access slots at Sydney Airport."

The caravan industry, which experienced significant growth due to closed international borders, will also be watched closely.

"Despite the pandemic, the ACCC received a high volume of complaints about motor vehicles consumer guarantee issues in 2020," Mr Sims said.

The ACCC was forced to set up a specialist coronavirus task force last year in response the significant rise in pandemic-related complaints.

Other priorities include the implementation of new safety measures for button batteries to prevent harm to children, and monitoring the federal government's mandatory standards for quad bikes.

The electricity market will also be closely watched after a requirement was placed on providers to pass costs on to consumers.

"Consumers saw their electricity prices rise enormously over many years. Now they need to see them fall considerably. This is only fair," Mr Sims said.