A trip down an illegal road
By Jeff Badger
Buyers beware, sellers be sure. Western students looking to make a little extra cash for slack week by selling tours for travel companies should be careful of what they are getting into.
T.J. Donnelly, director of sales and marketing for Breakaway Tours, said travel companies placing ads in campus newspapers trying to solicit students to sell trips for them on campus are committing an illegal act.
"Over the years this has become a very large problem. Some companies don't even know what they are doing is wrong, especially if they are from the [United States]," Donnelly said.
Michael Pepper, Chief Executive Officer Registrar of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, said the Travel Industry Act is a benchmark of standards which travel companies must comply with and all travel agencies must be licensed under the act.
"Students can't sell to other students. They would have to have a contract with the travel company," Pepper said. He added even with a contract, students are not permitted to advertise on campus and it is illegal for a student to put their home phone number in an ad.
Western student Shannon Kerr is a representative for Dynamite Sun and Ski Tours and said this was definitely a concern when she started. "[Donnelly] called me last year and said what I was doing was illegal. I checked it out with my dad's lawyer and he said I was legit," Kerr said.
Donnelly said he made several courtesy calls to inform people of the guidelines with no intention of harassing anyone.
"Penalties for violations of the Travel Industry Act can be up to $25,000 in fines and a year in prison for individuals and up to $100,000 in fines as well as imprisonment for corporations," Pepper said.
University Students' Council legal affairs officer Peter Cho commented on how students can protect themselves. "I'd advise anyone who is a representative for a travel company to ensure they are licensed [under the Act] just to do your research basically," he said.