ABTA and the Federation of Tour Operators are poised to launch campaigns on consumer financial protection and the environment when the associations merge on July 1.


Incoming head of development Andy Cooper, currently FTO director-general, said financial protection was an obvious issue for the merged association to campaign on.


Members will be encouraged to send a letter to their local MP to warn of the dangers of a lack of consistency on consumer financial protection across the entire sector.


“The letter will say if you don’t do something about financial protection it’s going to impact on agents as much as it impacts on those that are directly failing,” said Cooper.


The FTO called this week for the government to extend consumer protection to scheduled airlines.


The criticism directed at the aviation sector by the green lobby was likely to be another campaigning issue, he said.


“We are facing a hostile green lobby who seem to think the sole cause of everything wrong with the planet is due to the aviation sector. Flying is regarded as discretionary spending, but that is complete tosh,” he said.


Any attempt to deter holidaymakers from flying would have a dramatic impact on consumers who only holiday once a year. It would also damage tourist destinations, he said.


A priority for the merged organisation will be to give online firms a compelling reason to join and existing members a reason to stay. The new ABTA will also aim to develop a strong single voice for the industry and a more ‘visible’ body to approach government. Cooper admitted attempts to lobby government were currently ‘disjointed’.


A shortlist of offices for rent in the southeast has been drawn up and should provide a new headquarters for the organisation. ABTA has until March next year to leave its property in Newman Street.