Travel agents are being urged to attend a panel debate at this year’s World Travel Market to debate the importance of ATOLs.

Well-known industry figures will be on the panel at the session, which is aimed at agents and follows confusion over the need for financial protection following the collapse of XL Leisure Group, which happened when 85,000 of the company’s customers were on holiday.

Among those to debate the need for financial protection will be Kane Pirie, of online agency Travel Republic, which does not have an ATOL. He will be joined by On Holiday Group founder Steve Endacott, Teletext Holidays managing director Matt Cheevers, and a representative from The Co-operative Travel Group.

Cheevers has already led calls for an end to the current two-tier system, in which some companies have ATOLs and others do not.

He added: “The current situation with regard to ATOL coverage is completely unacceptable. If we are confused as an industry then who knows what consumers think. Changes must be made as soon as possible before it descends into further chaos.”

The event is sponsored by Rock Insurance, which has been promoting its Supplier Failure Cover to agents since XL’s collapse.

So far, about 60 agencies have signed up to the insurance policy, while another 120 are at an advanced stage of negotiations.

The policy is designed to protect the customer if the supplier or any component of the holiday cancels or delays the trip, or goes into liquidation.

  • Date: Wednesday November 12
  • Time: 10.15am-11.15am
  • Location: North Gallery Room 15
* More WTM 2008 coverage at travelweekly.co.uk/wtm2008