A petition calling for ABTA to review subscription hikes has gained pace, with 51 signatures by agency owners representing up to 150 UK shop branches.

The agent behind the petition, Deeping Travel managing director John Lawrence, said the fight for a restructure of the subscription model is far from over.

Comments on the petition, started last week, show independent agents are still angry following ABTA’s decision to increase minimum subscription costs by almost 39%, claimed Lawrence.

Lawrence, whose four branches are part of consortium Worldchoice, said: “There is sufficient anger and disappointment out there. We have 51 businesses on the petition – if we get 200 that’s about 10% of ABTA’s members.”

He intends to continue distributing the petition to agents in the trade, adding: “The ball is now in ABTA’s court but if we get to 200 signatures and nothing has been done, we will have to force the issue.”

But ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said the board had no plans to review subscriptions.

He added: “There are no plans to talk about the petition at board level. The board has made its decision on subscriptions and the point has been put across over the last few weeks.”

A spokeswoman said members were satisfied in general. ABTA dealt with 10,574 enquiries from 94% of its members during the 2007/08 financial year and 80% of members were happy or satisfied with the responses they received, she said.

Meanwhile, the Freedom Travel Agents’ Consortium and Hays Travel’s Independence Group have used dissatisfaction over subscription increases in recruitment advertising to boost their ranks.

They operate as single ABTA members and subscription increases are dealt with centrally rather than through their individual trading members.

Freedom general manager Jane Atkins said: “We are bigger than we’ve ever been as a group, with 135 members. The subscription increase has been a contributory factor.”

She said other issues, such as dissatisfaction among Triton members and extra ATOL legislation, had also encouraged more members to join.