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Opinion: Atol reforms will stifle travel entrepreneurs

Atol Forum - have your say on consumer protection changesSince I first got involved in dynamic packaging 10 years ago, it has grown from niche to mainstream. The vast majority of entrepreneurial online based travel companies have dynamic packaging at their core. It has become a major industry.

Companies like Travel Republic, On The Beach, Directline, to mention just a few, have come from nowhere to become very successful businesses. More importantly, they have been able to provide competitively-priced holidays for the UK public, enabling many people to take an overseas holiday even during these times of austerity.

The latest proposals to fudge the already hugely outdated Atol regulations sound like a large step in the wrong direction.The coalition government has already been accused of lacking an agenda for growth, and the CBI has been crying out for a reduction in red tape. So why is the travel industry looking to add greater regulation?

Bringing all of the dynamic packaging players under the rigid operating criteria of the Atol scheme can’t be good for entrepreneurial Britain. These are the companies that have provided the growth in the travel sector of the economy, while traditional tour operating has shrunk.

There are hundreds of travel companies now operating in the dynamic packaging sector, which provides healthy competition and cheap holiday prices for consumers. In tour operating there is less and less competition, and if you lost a large number of the dynamic packaging companies through stringent regulations you could end up with an oligopoly.

Abta is right to say that the latest proposals are unfair because they exclude the airlines. But instead of trying to tie everyone up in further regulation, shouldn’t we be looking to find a solution that covers all the market while still allowing small and medium-sized enterprises to prosper and grow?

Do you have something to say about consumer protection? Make your voice heard on our Atol Forum

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