Journal: TWUKSection:
Title: Issue Date: 02/10/00
Author: Page Number: 3
Copyright: Other

ABTA attacks ARTAC over Global rumpus


ABTA is furious with ARTAC Worldchoice for potentially wrecking its hard-won relationship with Global Travel Group.

The association’s bond with Global – which followed a period of animosity between the two organisations – has been threatened after Worldchoice chairman Colin Heal claimed Newman Street was planning to urge new agents to join either his consortium, Advantage Travel Centres or Midconsort.

The move, discussed during a secret ABTA strategy meeting, would exclude any recommendation to join Global Travel Group or the Travel Trust Association, said Heal.

Welcoming the plan, Heal added: “It is quite right that ABTA should direct queries from prospective new independent agents towards those consortia that are supportive of ABTA and who can match, and generally exceed, the commercial terms these other groups are claiming.”

The statement added it was part of a plan to “step up” the campaign against non-ABTA consortia.

But Newman Street immediately distanced itself from the issue and assured Global founder George Begg that no such plan existed.

ABTA officials are secretly furious at Worldchoice for issuing information from a closed meeting and putting the relationship with Global at risk.

Chief executive Ian Reynolds said: “We cannot step up any campaign as we don’t have a campaign to step up.

“The idea to tell agents of the various consortia groups was one of many things discussed at the meeting. I won’t be surprised if it happens but we have not said Global will be excluded. Nothing has been decided.”

Heal admitted it was over the top to say ABTA was stepping up a campaign.

However, he accused ABTA of backtracking.

“Ourselves, Advantage and Midconsort represent two-thirds of ABTA membership so why shouldn’t it direct prospective members to one of us?” said Heal.

“That was the plan as I saw it and to me it is logical.”

Global business development manager Sue Foxall said ABTA had distanced itself from Heal’s remarks but warned the association against any discrimination.

“We have been assured by ABTA it wants to work with us,” she said. “Any literature that is sent out must include details of every consortia.”

Loggerheads: Heal, left, welcomes the move to direct new independent agents to consortia that are supportive of ABTA, while Reynolds insists that no such campaign exists

Information issued from closed meeting