Travel Weekly says

lisa james (comment)It’s time to put consumers first

A FEW years ago, ABTA’s head of legal affairs Riccardo Nardi compared selling travel on the Internet with the “wild west” – anything went.

Nardi is now doing time at Her Majesty’s pleasure, but you could use his analogy to describe the industry in light of the current consumer protection mess.

With more agents happy to sell non-bonded holidays, customers either not bothered or oblivious as to whether their holidays are protected, and some operators saying they’ll opt out of bonding, this summer could be the last when holidaymakers travel under the existing protection.

ABTA has changed its message, small operators are worried about their future and the Government has come in for a lot of flack for not addressing the problems.

For years, customers have been told that if they want to be protected, they should book with an ABTA agent. This summer, the message is different: most of what ABTA agents sell will be protected, but not all.

The fear among smaller operators is that customers will book with a big name, while ABTA has warned agents that some won’t survive.

This industry’s reputation is already tarnished, as the rise in complaints to consumer watchdog programmes prove. The confusion over consumer protection won’t do anything to help.

The Government needs to sort this mess out and put a new system of consumer financial protection in place.

ATOL was set up 30 years ago, following a major collapse. Is it going to take another collapse before Whitehall steps in?

Betting on Blackpool

The shortlist for the UK’s first Las Vegas-style super casino has been announced, and the Millennium Dome and Wembley Stadium are on it.

I’m not a betting person, but if I were, I’d put my money on Blackpool. The seaside town has been in it from the start and would welcome a boost. And why should everything automatically go to London?

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