Unprotected holidays should come with a cigarette packet-style warning when flight-plus Atol changes come in next year, according to John Hays the founder of Hays Travel.
He told today’s Hays Independence Group conference in Birmingham that there should be a ‘health warning’ on all holidays that fall outside of the scope of Atol once its remit has been expanded to cover dynamically packaged trips.
And he claimed, in talks, the CAA has been supportive of the concept of a public education campaign to warn people of the potential dangers of booking unprotected trips. Hays called for a trade campaign and said the industry should lobby to get the Advertising Standards Authority and Trading Standards involved to police the area.
“I genuinely believe this is a legitimate demand. It can’t be right that you can have two people sitting next to each other on the same flight one protected and one not,” he said.
“That does not strike me as fundamentally fair or equitable. As long as you know your position it comes down to consumer choice. If you are offering unprotected holidays you should tell your clients. I want this to be almost like a health warning on a packet of cigarettes.
“What we are talking about here is really simple, if you are not providing cover you have to say on the invoice.”
Hays said the flight-plus reform due to come in next year to extend Atol to dynamic packages would not create a level playing field. Flight-plus has come in for heavy criticism from the trade in that it captures agents not currently caught by Atol but not scheduled airlines that are increasingly selling holidays on their websites.
The change will put agents at a financial disadvantage in that they will have to pay the £2.50 per person Atol Protection Contribution. Firms that have not had an Atol before would also have to provide a financial bond or other form of security and bonding for group Atols like Hays’s will have to be increased to cover the increased volume.
Hays said he had been assured that the change would not mean agents are considered as the principal for the purpose of TOMS VAT by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
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