Booking agents sending tourists to Fraser Island could be making pure profit on their commissions.
Booking agents sending tourists to Fraser Island could be making pure profit on their commissions. Holger Mette

Tourism agents face new regulation

TOURISM booking agents on the Fraser Coast may find their commissions could eventually be regulated by law after a report found the region was one of the worst in the state for excessive commission prices.

Anecdotal evidence of financial threats and a lack of professionalism were just some of the issues found in tourism industries in the Fraser Coast, the Gold Coast, the Whitsunday's and Cairns.

"These regions all have product which cost hundreds of dollars for a couple or family, and several or many competing operators for a number of these activities," the Tour Desk Commission Review issue paper said.

Recommendations included capping commission prices and forcing agents to declare to tourists what they earned on commission for each tour.

The paper also found tourism operators themselves had been offering higher commissions in order to get more referrals from agents.

"There is ample evidence that some operators have, and continue to, offer higher commissions to distributors in an attempt to influence increased sales of their products," it said.

One Hervey Bay tourism operator agreed with the calls for regulation and said Fraser Coast businesses were being held to ransom by some booking agents.

He said some accommodation providers would flat-out refuse to refer backpackers and other tourists without being paid a high commission.

"They are in it for the money," he said.

"They know that if we're not there next year, someone else will be."

The operator said commissions had cost his business $30,000 in the past year.

An AdventureFree Tours staff member said he would support the call for regulation to prevent the damage that could be done to the Fraser Coast tourism sector by rogue operators.

"I support sensible regulation so weak operators don't fix their problems with unreasonable commissions," he said.

A full report will be given to the State Government in August.