Introduction of a £1 consumer levy on holidays has been a success, but holidaymakers are no closer to understanding what it offers, said travel bosses at a Barclays panel discussion on air travel.

A £1 ATOL Protection Contribution has been added to all package holidays and other ATOL-protected sales since April, replacing the former bonding system.

Advantage chief executive John McEwan said: “APC has been well accepted. The only issue is it is not wide enough – it does not cover the airlines.”

However, Monarch Airlines chief executive Peter Brown said: “People do not understand the protection they are getting.” Consumers recognise the ABTA logo and not the ATOL logo and think everything is protected, he said.

Civil Aviation Authority consumer protection group director Richard Jackson agreed: “Our research shows 50% of the population think they know all about protection. The problem is they are completely wrong. Of the other 50%, 20% do not understand it and do not want to know about it.”

But Jackson rejected a suggestion that the APC scheme acts as a barrier to new entrants to the industry, which have to supply an ATOL bond on top.

Jackson said: “They need a little more up front but, by the second year, the cost is about the same. The rules are designed to stop any Tom, Dick or Harry coming in, to ensure new entrants are broadly as reputable as those already in the scheme.”