The UK’s leading cruise operator Carnival UK has set out its case for forcing agents to get their customers to pay it direct.

The controversial move to a US-style direct payments regime comes after the operator lost millions of pounds in the crash of Gill’s Cruise Centre in July.

Carnival was talking about moving agents to direct payments before the Gill’s collapse, but the failure has only added to its intention to move all agents on to this system within 18 months.

Carnival has been accused of causing its own problems by offering credit to an agent known for discounting, but writing for Travel Weekly Carnival UK sales director Giles Hawke defended the operator’s record.

He concluded: “As with any other business, if cash flow is required then it is worth creating a business plan and speaking to a bank, where security on loans will be required and interest will be paid.

“It is no longer viable for principals to offer interest-free unsecured “loans” to travel agencies in the UK. The buck stops here.”

However, Bailey’s Travel owner Chris Bailey, said: The travel agent is, in the main, an honourable and ethical entity. So stop beating us up. There will always be those who fail, for all manner of reasons. Taking pipeline money away from us is not the answer.

“Investing some trust and belief in our ability to help sell holidays and cruises to our local population is a real win-win situation for everyone; tour operator, cruise company, agent and customer alike.

“Don’t let past commercial misjudgements with regard to one or two rogue agents colour your view of the whole sector. Treat us properly, reward us for the good job we do, and we’ll all prosper.”