Youtravel.com has become the latest bed bank to quit ABTA over the association’s ruling that bed banks must be liable for bookings if an ABTA agent fails. Youtravel.com’s decision follows the departure from ABTA of two other bed banks, Thomas Cook-owned hotels4u.com and Med Hotels, which both left the association over the issue last month.
In a statement, youtravel.com group managing director Graham Nichols said: “Youtravel.com has resigned from ABTA with immediate effect over the association’s recent ruling to make bed banks liable for all forward bookings made through an agent in the event of agency failure, whether or not the bed bank has been paid.
“Our relationships with agents are varied and complex and are negotiated on an individual contractual basis. In addition, agents sell in different ways, which also has a bearing on the overall commercial situation. This ruling does not take into consideration the intricacies of the supplier-travel agent relationship or the continuing evolution in this sector, which will be further informed by the imminent Med Hotels’ VAT case and the Travel Republic court case.
“In these circumstances, we find it an unacceptable risk to our business model to accept this new blanket ruling, preferring to rely on the actual contractual, commercial and practical agreements that are in place. The ABTA protection of £100,000 a year is not enough to cover the risk.
“As with any business decision, things will remain under review as the shape and scope of the accommodation-only sector continues to develop,” he said.
ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “We regret that any ABTA member feels the need to leave the association. However, we will continue in our discussions with youtravel.com and other bed banks.”
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