Korean tourism kickbacks concern ACCC

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accepted court enforceable undertakings from the Korean Inbound Tour Operator Council of Australia Incorporated (KITOCA) over concerns relating to sections of the law relating to price fixing and boycotts.

The ACCC says it was concerned that agreements involving KITOCA contravened the price fixing and boycott provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

The watchdog said in May last year that KITOCA and some of its members had reached agreements to not deal with certain Korean tour operators unless fees paid to Australian tour operators increased.

Also, KITOCA and some of its members arranged for certain duty free stores and restaurants in Australia to not allow entry to Korean tourists on tours operated by those Korean tour operators, and imposed financial fines and boycotts on members who refused to be part of these agreements.

KITOCA has pledged to cease engaging in the conduct.

It will arrange trade practices compliance training for its members and inform them of their responsibilities under the act.

Acting ACCC chair Louise Sylvan said the watchdog welcomed KITOCA’s steps to introduce a voluntary code of conduct.

The payment of commissions by businesses to tour operators is not illegal if appropriately disclosed, so she encouraged businesses to be transparent with such matters.