The travel industry needs to unite behind ABTA if it is to be taken seriously by the government.
The Co-operative Travel group managing director and ABTA board member Mike Greenacre told the Institute of Travel and Tourism Conference in Dubai: “There has to be one body to lead in lobbying the government and that has to be ABTA. I cannot see anyone else doing it.”
Industry leaders are increasingly frustrated by ministers’ apparent lack of appreciation of the sector’s needs and its contribution to the economy, with a tripling of the ATOL levy on holidays to come in October and substantial rises in Air Passenger Duty ahead both this November and next.
ABTA hosted a campaign meeting against the hike in APD two weeks ago with representatives from across travel and tourism. It is also set to challenge the planned APC hike in a consultation response to be submitted to the CAA on Friday.
Greenacre said: “The planned rises in the ATOL protection contribution and APD will have a big impact on the industry. Once a new ABTA president is in place we have to draw a line and be clear about our strategy.”
The result of the ABTA presidential election will be announced late on Wednesday at the ITT conference.
TUI Travel UK customer director Tim Williamson said: “We are seen as an easy source of revenue and there is no sign of any new government listening to us. We must ensure we not legislated out of business. I urge we get behind ABTA and speak with one voice.”
However, Greenacre warned a failure to develop ABTA’s lobbying muscle could put the association’s future in doubt. He said: “If we cannot influence the government, we have to seriously ask what ABTA is going to deliver to the industry.”
- For more on the ITT conference go to travelweekly.co.uk/itt2009