WITH
war in Iraq drawing to a close, Travel Weekly and ABTA’s Gimme a break campaign
is moving into overdrive. This is the time to grab your share of the
pent-up demand by acting as the
voice of travel in your area. And now there are even more reasons for you to
make the headlines. Gimme a break has teamed up with Cosmos Tourama to give
away an Italy break to the agent who does the most to talk up the industry each
week.

The winning agent and their partner
will win one of Cosmos Tourama’s eight-day Leisurely Tours of Italy based on
the Venice or Naples charter programmes, available from eight regional UK
airports.

All you have to do is send us your
name and shop details and we’ll find a local newspaper, radio or TV station who
wants to talk to you. To help you, the key facts to mention can be found at
www.travelweekly.co.uk and abtamembers.org.

To sign up, e-mail your name and
agency details to twfeedback@rbi.co.uk

Let’s get people travelling.

 

Published
here is a key list of points Travel Weekly and ABTA have put together to help
you when you speak. Let’s get people travelling.

 

Q.1
How do I know whether it is safe to go on holiday?

 

Most
holiday destinations have been and will remain unaffected by the Gulf War. But
if you book with an ABTA-bonded tour operator, you can be assured of the best
possible service during these difficult times.

ABTA
and its members follow advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
very carefully. If, before you travel, the FCO issues advisories against all,
or non-essential, travel to your holiday destination during the period of your
holiday, then you will be entitled to a full refund of the monies you paid to
your tour operator.

 

Q.2
What if I’m already there?

 

If
you are overseas and the FCO advice changes to advise against travel to your
destination, your tour operator will either arrange for you to return to the UK
as soon as possible, or make alternative holiday arrangements where this is
practical.

If
no alternative is available and you are brought home early, no compensation
will be payable but you will receive a refund of any unused services eg
accommodation costs where your tour operator is able to recover these from its
suppliers.

 

Q.3
What if I change my mind?

 

Some
companies are reducing the level of deposits they require, while others are
offering ‘flexible booking’, which means that you change your mind you may be
able to change the destination for no extra charge.

 

Q.4
When should you book?

 

There
are some very good deals around if you book now for April, May and June with
prices down quite significantly. But if the war continues for much longer,
these deals will disappear as the tour operators take holidays out of the
market. Similarly, if the war ends, prices will rise. Resorts in Spain and
Greece will sell out quickly for peak seasons and prices will hold.

 

Q.5
Are holidays the cheapest they have ever been?

 

The
average price paid for summer 2003 holidays booked in January and February this
year was £552 – a 3.4 per cent fall on summer 2002.

 

Q.6
What effect will the war have on the industry?

 

The
war in Iraq will certainly have an adverse effect on tourism in the short-term,
but once the conflict is over, those people who put off their decision on a
holiday, will make up their minds quickly and ‘pent-up’ demand will rush back.
This means there will be a shortage of holidays left for the peak season.
Research by Thomson Holidays shows the Brits now see an overseas holiday as
part of their life and not a luxury.

 

Q.7
Will more people stay at home?

 

VisitBritain
will launch a domestic campaign just after Easter to encourage British people
to take a fresh look at what lies on their own doorstep. ABTA is also
encouraging the public to book a domestic break with their travel agent.

 

Q.8
Should I put together my own holiday to get the best deal?

 

Firms
selling package holidays have to comply with European law and offer their
customers greater rights than those putting holiday elements together
themselves.

 

Q.9
What is a package?

 

If
you pay one firm, in a single transaction, for a range of holiday items – like
flights, accommodation, or car hire, it’s a package. It will normally be sold
at a single inclusive price. Some tour operators offer brochures or websites
from which you can create a ‘tailormade’ holiday by choosing your flights and
hotel from limited lists and this will also be a package.

 

If
you ask a travel agent to meet your own specific requirements then it won’t be
a package. Similarly many websites – usually the airlines’ – will offer you the
ability to put together a package by choosing a flight from them and other
items like hotels and car hire from separate companies and this won’t be a
package either.

 

Q.10
Where and when is it best to buy travel insurance?

 

The
best time and place to buy travel insurance is when you buy your holiday
through your travel agent or tour operator so that you have immediate cover.
Travel agents can offer competitively priced insurance, with good cover as well
as offering peace of mind. The person who sold you your holiday will know
exactly where you are going and what activities you have planned and will make
sure you get the most appropriate insurance for your trip. Travel agents will
also help you process a claim if you have to make one.

 

Q.11
What is the difference between ABTA and ATOL?

 

ABTA
– the Association of British Travel Agents – and ATOL which stands for Air
Travel Organisers’ License both provide financial protection for holidays.

Package
holidays that include a flight have to be protected by ATOL. The scheme is
managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and is the only protection scheme
for flights and air holidays sold by tour operators in the UK.

The
scheme protects customers from losing money or being stranded abroad due to the
failure of air travel firms. It gives comprehensive consumer protection to 28
million people in the UK who buy flights or air holidays each year.

 

ABTA
is a trade association which represents travel agents and tour operators, who
sell 90% of package holidays from the UK. Members join voluntarily, but ABTA
has strict criteria that businesses have to meet before they can join. ABTA
members’ financial protection covers all non-flight based holidays and will
enable customers to continue their holiday and return home safely if their
travel agent or tour operator goes out of business while they are away. If you
haven’t started your holiday, ABTA will refund you or give you help to make
alternative arrangements.