ABTA – The Travel Association today provides its initial response to publication of the Department for Transport’s ATOL Reform Regulations.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive, ABTA said: “ABTA supports the extension of consumer protection for holidays and believes the concept of Flight Plus is the right first step towards achieving this, with the inclusion of holidays sold by airlines an essential second step.
However, the industry has been awaiting the publication of the Department for Transport’s Regulations for some time and, in the process, the 30 April timetable for launch has looked increasingly unrealistic. Securing an ATOL requires applying for a licence and securing financial protection, and it is unrealistic to expect businesses to do this in 14 working days.
ABTA asked the Government to reconsider this timetable to give businesses sufficient time to prepare. That they have chosen not to, underestimates the complexity of the administration process that travel businesses must undertake to ensure they comply and represents a missed opportunity to ensure that more travel arrangements are financially protected from the date of launch. That will lead to more consumer confusion.
There are now just 14 working days to go until the April deadline for travel businesses to secure their ATOL licensing arrangements yet we are still waiting for clarity on key elements of the proposals such as what is included and what is exempt, and what is required in the wording of an Agency Agreement. Until the list of exemptions and Standard Terms are published, many travel businesses may still be unsure what kind of ATOL cover they need.
The majority of our Members have been doing all they can to understand and prepare for the changes, we know that from the record turnouts that we have had to our ATOL events and viewers of our videos and webinars.”
ABTA expects to announce further details on the launch and application process for its ABTA-ATOL Joint Administration Scheme shortly. Members with a turnover of up to £1.5m will be eligible to apply for the scheme and it is expected to deliver significant cost savings and provide a hassle-free way of applying for a licence.
ABTA will provide a more detailed update for Members on the Regulations and what they mean for Members’ travel businesses, following publication of the list of exemptions and Standard Terms.