18 Mar 2013
The association, with nearly 150 small and medium-sized member companies (www.aito.com) is encouraged to hear the comments of Kate Jennings, Head of Aviation Policy Implementation at BIS, made at the ABTA law seminar earlier this week. She indicated that Government saw this initial reform as a sticking plaster and very much a first step.
The next step, as indicated by Minister Theresa Villiers, would be Government consideration of primary legislation to include airlines within the scope of the ATOL scheme and also to introduce legislation to clarify the position of travel organisers which act as agents for the consumer.
AITO does not agree with Paul Evans (Lowcost Travel Group) who is quoted as saying that Thomas Cook and TUI were merely trying to raise the barriers of entry for smaller players. All AITO members comply fully with current regulations and many are very small companies which have had to meet the existing tough capital and trading requirements.
The fact that the ATOL scheme will now be extended will mean that those travel organisers which have been allowed to grow without complying with the ATOL system over the last five years or so will now be brought into line and a level playing field created within the tour operating sector. This will provide greater protection and clarity for the consumer.
Says Derek Moore, Chairman of AITO: "I was encouraged to see, at the Barclays Travel Forum event, that a vote on the topic of ATOL reform held after the debate showed that 82% of the audience - all travel professionals - felt that inclusion of airlines within future ATOL legislation should be implemented".