ABTA president John Harding has admitted its financial
difficulties are stopping it from defending the trade against the growing
threat of self-packaged holidays.
In an open letter to Harding last week, Travel Weekly
demanded a ‘massive consumer campaign’ outlining the risks of independent
travel and promoting the benefits of booking with a bonded agent and operator.
In response, Harding said now is the time
to launch an advertising campaign to counter national press reports of the
death of the package holiday – but conceded ABTA’s difficult financial position
means it can’t.
ABTA splashed out £240,000 on a joint advertising
campaign with the Civil Aviation Authority over Christmas promoting the
benefits of ATOL-bonded holidays. ABTA also recently admitted defeat in its tax
case against the Inland Revenue, paying out £2.5 million.
“Advertising costs a lot of money. That £240,000
allowed us to buy a handful of newspaper adverts, that’s all. To launch a
high-profile campaign would take £2 million and ABTA hasn’t got the funds to do
it,” he said.