The Boards of ABTA and the Federation of Tour Operators have announced that they intend to amalgamate the two organisations with effect from 1 July 2008.The move sees the two leading UK travel trade associations coming together to create a powerful and authoritative voice for the industry, which will more effectively represent its broad membership of travel companies.
Members stand to benefit from the expertise of both organisations, which bring different strengths to the new association. The FTO’s experience and knowledge in operational issues - particularly regarding health and safety issues, crisis management and responsible tourism will complement ABTA’s role in financial protection, consumer standards and the provision of information.
The new association will create a stronger voice for all Members, reinforcing both organisations’ lobbying influence in the UK and Europe.
The FTO will maintain its identity and current membership as part of ABTA Ltd., and the FTO brand will continue to be used in relation to its activities. The FTO will become a formal Committee of the ABTA Board.
The FTO represents the interests of the larger UK tour operators. The majority of its Members are already ABTA Members and will be so in the future. To ensure that FTO issues are fully addressed and resourced, it is intended that the FTO Members nominate a candidate for one of the appointed positions on the ABTA Board.
It is anticipated that all staff from both organisations will be part of the new body, including the staff of The Travelife Sustainability System, which forms the most important part of FTO’s responsible tourism strategy.
To ensure a fully integrated approach, and reduce operating costs of the combined entity, the intention is to operate from the same premises as soon as it is practical to do so.
Mark Tanzer will retain the role of Chief Executive Officer of ABTA and Andy Cooper will retain his role and title as Director General of FTO and IFTO. Andy will also become ABTA Head of Development in which capacity he will lead the development of strategic partnerships for the whole organisation.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “FTO and ABTA have had a very close working relationship for several years in respect of policy issues, and the formal combination of the two associations will bring about operating synergies which will give us the capacity to create a stronger lobbying voice, be more effective, and save costs. There has been a proliferation of associations and lobbying organisations in travel and this consolidation will benefit all Members.”
Andy Cooper, Director General of the FTO adds: “We are pleased to fully support the new amalgamation, one in which the FTO retains its identity and through which it continues to lead with its destination expertise on issues including health and safety, responsible tourism and crisis management.”