The CAA has promised to bring in a new central system for agents to create and issue Atol certificates within five years.

Andy Cohen, CAA head of Atol, told the weekend’s Travel Network Group conference in Lake Bled, Slovenia, that the certificate was a vital element for the branding of Atol as the protection kitemark.

He said he was pleased with how the new Atol arrangements had bedded in, including the new Flight-Plus licence, and that 10 million certificates were now in the marketplace.

The CAA is currently working with industry technology firms to create a central system for the certificates.

“We are working with various IT partners, it’s not imminent but it will come in stream in the next few years,” said Cohen, who confirmed to Travel Weekly it was likely to be around five years.

Cohen told delegates: “While we are aware you are all issuing certificates, we are also aware of times when your are unsure about which certificate you should be issuing and what should be on it.

“We know we need to give you some more advice.”

Cohen added: “The Atol certificate is very important for branding and we intend to evolve it further.”

He warned that the CAA was now very much focused on enforcing the Atol rules and that all agents must make sure they have agency agreements in place and are issuing certificates to customers.

“We are looking to prosecute any individual for not having one of these agreements in place,” he said.

In the future the government is looking to hand regulation of smaller travel firms to the industry via accredited bodies and other third party arrangements.

Cohen said it was important the industry makes its views known when the government goes out with a call for evidence on the future of Atol ahead of a consultation.

“It will stay as a concept but the way it’s run will change. Do we need to have an independent body to run it? Do you want to run it yourselves? Should we move to insurance or bonds or is there a trust account method for protecting money?

“The government will seek your views prior to any consultation and this will have a fundamental impact on the financial protection system over the next 30 years.

“It’s important you shape the consultation and it reflects what you want.”