Worldchoice and Travel Trust Association parent The Travel Network Group has started a petition to force a parliamentary debate on the banning of credit and debit card charges.

Vim Vithaldas, group commercial and finance director, told delegates at the first day of the group’s 2017 overseas conference in Monaco today that legislation to outlaw payments charges was unfair.

Under new EU rules due to come in in January firms will no longer be able pass on the cost of merchant services fees charged by banks in the form of charges for certain types of payment.

Vithaldas said: “I believe this is extremely unfair. It cannot be right for our members or the end consumer.

“You will still be levied a fee, but you cannot have the ability of passing that on to your customers. Effectively your overheads are going up.

“As far as consumers are concerned it’s not particularly good news either. Today the consumer has a choice [of how to pay].

“Going forward the reality is going to be the tour operators will typically pass that overhead on. They will raise the cost of holidays because they have the ability to do so.”

TTNG is waiting for a petition it has lodged with the government demanding the new Payment Services Directive 2 rules be scrapped as part of its lobbying efforts.

Once it has 100,000 signatures Parliament will be obliged to debate it. Vithaldas said with TTNG’s size and reach with customers it should easily be able to collect enough signatures.

“Talk to colleagues, to family members and to customers and urge them to sign this petition,” he said.

As well as the petition Vithaldas said TTNG is talking to suppliers about raising commission levels to offset the impact on agents.

He said this has seen “mixed feedback” with the vast majority “sitting on the fence and seeing what their competitors are doing”.

Vithaldas encouraged members to negotiate merchant deals with their banks citing one agent with turnover of £250,000 who was able to reduce fees for credit cards to 1% from 1.8%.

“I urge you to pick up the phone and negotiate hard,” he said. “If they say no we have other providers we can recommend.”

Banks are open to negotiation, added Vithaldas, but the likelihood of reducing rates could depend on factors like whether business is done over the phone or face to face or destinations sold.