Rise in ABTA subscriptions angers independent travel agents

A substantial rise in ABTA subscriptions next week has angered independent agents who feel unfairly penalised.

ABTA concedes some smaller members face a 37% increase in subscriptions, but argues its charges have not increased for the past six years.

However, the minimum subscription rate will rise by almost 39% from £540 to £750 a year for those with an annual retail business of up to £500,000, with VAT on top.

ABTA said 106 members would pay an increase at the minimum rate. Agency subscriptions above the minimum rate rise by £8.31 per £100,000 in turnover.

Thorpe Travel owner and managing director John Garbutt said: “We know everything is going up, but agents get the short end of the stick. I would like to see more for my money.”

Fellow Worldchoice member Colin Bailey, managing director of Bailey’s Travel, said: “ABTA is an expensive luxury. It should downsize and cut the amount it costs us.”

The ABTA board agreed the increases in April and they apply from July 1.

An ABTA spokeswoman said: “We felt we had to do this given all the cost increases. Subscriptions will rise quite a lot for some people and the percentage does look big, but the amounts are quite small.”

She conceded the increases would hit the smallest members hardest, but added: “The bigger companies pay a lot more. There has been no increase for six years and we are keen to reduce our costs – that is why we cut secretariat costs last year.”

Tour operators and other supplier members pay the same minimum subscription rate on the first £200,000 of business and £27.39 on each additional £100,000.

All subscriptions are subject to VAT at 17.5%. Charges are capped at £100,000 per registered business.

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