Abta has issued initial guidance on the extension of consumer protection and new Flight-Plus Atol for agents, saying “there is nothing inherent [in the proposals] that will make a company liable for VAT”.

The association tells members sales designated as ‘Flight Plus’ will not be the same as a package holiday.

Abta says: “The seller is only liable for the protection of the customer’s monies. They are not responsible for the actual provision of the service.”

It makes clear Flight-Plus will apply only to sales that include a flight and overseas accommodation or car hire, and not to a flight sold with a UK airport hotel, transfers or attraction tickets.

The advice says agents do not need to make any changes in order to continue selling holidays as an agent of tour operators. However, all agents will be required to have written agency agreements from tour operators and have to issue the correct paperwork.

Abta says: “This is good practice in any event.”

The association echoes the Department for Transport line on VAT, saying: “The government says HMRC [Revenue and Customs] has confirmed there is nothing inherent in being a Flight-Plus Arranger that will make a company liable for VAT.”

Abta also says retailers may “avoid all this” by acting as agent for the consumer. It promises advice on trading as agent for the consumer, adding: “This is not as straightforward as it might seem.”

The question-and-answer guidance follows publication of detailed Atol reform proposals on June 23. Abta plans to issue more detailed advice after consulting members ahead of the government consultation ending on September 15.

The guidance is available on the members-only section of the Abta website. Contact Abta on consultations@abta.co.uk