Comment | Fraudsters take note: the travel industry is no easy target

Travel Weekly editor Sarah LongbottomThe travel industry has a lot to contend with these days: consolidation, cost-cutting, competition, the surge of direct online bookings – the list is apparently endless.

But fraud should not have to join this list. The guilty verdict this week in the biggest fraud case of its kind proves that a united travel trade can make a difference.

ABTA, Teletext and the Civil Aviation Authority helped to prosecute fraudsters Christakis Philippou, Evangelia Liogka and Timothy Entwisle, who were involved in five travel agencies that advertised offers for holidays that did not exist.

Such fraudulent behaviour gives the travel industry a bad name. Fortunately, these people were caught and their crimes revealed to the public.

As ABTA head of financial services Mike Monk – who had waited 10 years to see the conspirators caught – pointed out, this gang believed the travel industry was a soft target.

Our Stamp Out Fraud campaign, launched last year in association with ABTA, the CAA, Teletext and the Metropolitan Police offered advice on how to avoid con-artists.

The web is popular, but agents deliver satisfaction

The Internet debate still raises controversy among traditional high-street travel agents: is the web stealing business or boosting it?

Does it encourage customers to tap agents for information but then book online?

In 2000 there were 267 ABTA-registered websites now, there are around 7,000, according to a recent survey by Holiday Which?

The survey polled nearly 3,000 adults about their opinion of travel agents. The findings confirm what many travel agents already know: the Internet is a popular way to research a trip.

However, perhaps the most important finding is that 64% of those who had booked their holiday with an agent felt the staff knew what they were talking about and had first-hand knowledge of their destination.

Thomas Cook in Skelmersdale, which won this week’s Mystery Shopper with a massive 99%, confirms this finding.

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