ABTA chairman John McEwan is confident the association can represent the views of its entire membership following the first meeting of an ATOL reform steering committee on Friday.
The meeting in London was attended by ABTA members including those from independent consortia, the big two and the large online travel agents (OTAs).
Some OTAs had expressed concern that ABTA’s developing view on regulatory reform did not appear to be in their interests and was too heavily influenced by the big vertically integrated tour operators.
Last week, travelweekly.co.uk exclusively revealed that Steven Freudmann, chairman and chief executive of the Institute of Travel and Tourism, was planning to hold a meeting in London at the end of this month to discuss setting up a lobby group. Some OTAs and other large retailers have been invited to the meeting.
But McEwan said following Friday’s meeting he was convinced that the association’s members would come to an agreed position.
This Friday is the deadline for consultation forms to be returned to ABTA on proposed changes to ATOL regulation and the Civil Aviation Authority by the Department for Transport (DfT).
McEwan said ABTA’s view would start to become clear once those responses were in and the working group had been able to assess them and input its own position.
“It’s still reasonably early in the process and Friday’s meeting was the first to consider the DfT’s documents,” he added.
“Until we can see what the members are saying it’s difficult to speculate, but what we have got to do is respond in a way that serves the interests of our members and ensure that whatever proposals go forward do not hinder trade or put exorbitant costs into the business.
“I have got every confidence in ABTA’s ability to do that. While we did not draw any conclusions on Friday it was a very positive and engaged meeting.
“It was a good opportunity for those around the table to express their views and I’m confident we can represent all the constituencies within ABTA successfully.”
The next meeting of the steering group will be held at the end of this month, giving it the opportunity to consider the responses from the membership consultation before formulating a position.
Travel Weekly is exclusively attending a Grant Thorton seminar in London today where the the issue of ATOL and VAT regulations will be discussed, For exclusive coverage of this event, log on to travelweekly.co.uk.