There are good reasons why holiday prices should be transparent, not least because no one likes to be misled.
In an effort to bring the industry into line, in February this year, the Office of Fair Trading and Abta agreed the latter would enforce its code of conduct with its members, while the OFT would police the remaining players in the travel industry. The industry was given three months – until May – to get into shape before it would be held accountable.
Now, six weeks on, Abta has hauled in 11 members found to be in breach of the code of conduct regarding transparent pricing. Some of these members were fined various amounts, presumably, as an example to others still not playing ball.
The responses to this move are interesting. Some tour operators have suggested it is unfair to single them out when others in the industry – most notably low-cost airlines – refuse to show their full prices. Others point out that the largest fine incurred – £5,000 – is a drop in the ocean for the big tour operators, and hardly a deterrent.
Abta is in a difficult position. If members have agreed to the code, yet are blatantly flaunting the rules, surely it is only right and fair that it holds them accountable?
If Abta does not do it, then the OFT could, which could lead to far worse consequences than a mere fine.
The question is: is it worth it?
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