Starting today, Ottawa-based Brew Donkey (“the Company”) will be offering up their educational craft brewery tours, which normally sell for approximately $85 per ticket, for no charge.
What may seem like a questionable business decision at first is in fact an appeal to local business owners, politicians, and community members for support in an issue the Company is currently experiencing with the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (“TICO”).
On April 17, the Company received a notice from TICO, whose mandate is to ensure that anyone involved with selling travel in Ontario is doing so in accordance with the Travel Industry Act (“the Act”), concerning a compliance issue in regards to their operations. According to the letter received, TICO believes the Company is providing travel services without prior registration as a travel agent and therefore contravening the provincial legislation governing the travel industry in Ontario.
In order to become compliant they must either become a registered travel agent, or work as an Outside Sales Representative with an existing TICO registered travel agency through whom all of the business must flow. The Company was given until May 4, 2015 to become compliant, with an extension granted until May 19. After such time, if Brew Donkey remains non-compliant, they could face legal action if any monies are accepted for brewery tours that include bus transportation.
While Brew Donkey intends to do everything it can to become compliant, they are still in discussions with their lawyers and educating themselves on the Act itself. They believe that they fall within an exemption* of the Act which would require them to make a few small clerical changes. At this time, the two parties are at a disagreement regarding the classification, and with the short time-frame given by TICO this has left the Company with very few options.
The Brew Donkey team are stubborn as mules and refuse to stop educating Ottawa beer lovers on our city’s growing craft beer scene, even if it means offering the tours at no charge.
That’s right – until a solution is found, the Company will be offering all brewery tours that include bus transportation at no charge while it works to rectify the situation with TICO and become compliant with the Act.
To continue supporting the local companies visited on these tours and to assist with loss of income while they work with TICO, Brew Donkey encourages interested parties to visit their IndieGogo campaign at http://igg.me/at/brew-donkey. Over the next month the Company aims to raise $15,000 in pledges, with incentives for each pledge level including locally made swag, gift certificates for craft beer delivery, and even an exclusive walking tour.
There is also a template letter available for download on the Company’s website which can be sent to your local MPP to show your support
*Exemption 2.2 under the Travel Industry Act reads: A person (other than a person who operates an airline, cruise line or bus line) who, in connection with the business of being an end supplier of travel services, also provides local travel services that are purchased from another person, but does not accept payment of more than 25 per cent of the cost of the travel services sold to any customer more than 30 days before the travel services are to be provided.
-From TICO Study Manual 2013: This applies only if the local supplier does not request more than 25% of payment in advance or payment more than 30 days in advance. The purpose of this exemption is to assist local tourism businesses.
ABOUT BREW DONKEY
Brew Donkey is a craft beer focused liquor delivery service and brewery tour operator servicing all of the craft breweries in the Ottawa region since 2013. We provide a safe and responsible option for exploring Ottawa’s craft beer scene, offering transportation, smart-serve certified operators, meals, and plenty of hydration.