Abta’s Save Future Travel campaign is expected to have an impact on government if everyone in the industry gets behind it and lobbies their local MP.
Yesterday, the trade body launched its latest bid to pressure the UK government to change the rules on refunds for cancelled holidays as travel firms fight for survival.
Alistair Rowland, Abta chairman, praised the government lobbying work of the association but said a bottom-up grass roots movement will make a difference.
And he said he was sure the UK government will follow others in Europe in changing the Package Travel Regulations to allow credit notes instead of full cash refunds within 14 days.
Rowland said the Abta campaign was “entirely the right move”. As a trade body Abta’s done everything they can lobbying, hitting all government departments.
“What’s happening right now is you have MPs in their constituencies dealing with local issues more than ever before.
“And I think what government needs to see is the strength of feeling of the trade itself, of suppliers, the partners, the supporters and customers.”
Rowland said a viral campaign will be stronger adding: “What Abta’s done well is they’ve put a system up that’s not too hard to send a letter to your MP.
“That’s going to be a huge campaign for MPs to sit up and take notice of. And it’s very local to an MP, about a local business supported by all their customers and their supply chain.
“I think it will go viral very quickly and I think it will be powerful in a different way than the top down lobbying.”
“There was a campaign a number of weeks ago to talk to MPs locally, but it was complex. This is a very sensible campaign that takes no time at all.
“If you look at the strength of relationship between customer and supply chain agent and operator everybody wants the travel industry to keep going.”
Rowland said, while Abta has the CAA and Department for Transport on side it has yet to convince the department for Business (BEIS) about the changes it wants to see.
“The government is all about consumer detriment and if we get a hundred thousand, half a million, a million responses into government saying the same thing and actually they look over at the EU and they see that all these countries have already moved I don’t see there’ll be a reason not to.
“What Abta came up with, the refund credit note idea, which wasn’t a change to secondary legislation with the Package Travel Regulations and which was enforceable and supported by the financial protection measures, was a very strong stance from Abta.
“They are sat behind protecting consumer rights in terms of protection, but helping everybody and making sure that fits with the Atol rules as well as Abta bonding.
“I think Abta have pushed really hard here. I think they’ve done an excellent job so far in getting government to listen. But government needs to listen and it’s not over until it’s over.”