THE GLOBAL Travel Group is urging
ABTA to be more vigilant after fears that rogue agents could get the
organisation’s protection “through the back door”.

Global claims agents who would not
obtain ABTA membership in their own right are slipping through the net by
joining groups with one ABTA membership badge.

These groups offer members – or
branches – ABTA protection through the single bond. Only the head office is a
fully-fledged ABTA member.

Global, which has non-ABTA agents –
covered by Global’s own trust fund – and Independent Options’ ABTA-bonded
members, fears agents with criminal convictions could be gaining ABTA bonding
protection through their association with an ABTA-bonded travel group.

Global operations director Andrew
Botterill said: “ABTA has a responsibility to investigate and amend the current
loophole, but it seems to be falling on deaf ears.”

Independent Options development
director Sue Foxall added: “ABTA has got to be squeaky clean but we feel the organisation
has buried its head in the sand.”

ABTA head of financial services Mike
Monk said ABTA could not stop its members employing fraudsters but could demand
additional security be put in place.

“Certainly we do not want people to
be working for ABTA members who are undesirable, but it’s not realistic to keep
tabs on every single member.

“Members do have to notify us if
they are opening a branch and the branch has to apply.  We will then do some vetting work.

“I would expect members to do their
own due diligence checks for new branches.”

Freedom Travel Group, which offers
agents protection under its ABTA bond, said any fraudulent background of
potential new members would be picked up during credit checks. They would then
be refused entry.

UK sales manager Peter Dickinson
said: “We have responsibility for all our members. We would have to discipline
them if they operated outside ABTA rules and we would have to pay out. We are
very careful about who we let in.”