The government is calling for views on how consumer protection for holidaymakers should be provided in the first stage of its review of the Atol scheme.

Aviation minister Simon Burns said the time was right for a “fundamental review” of the scheme which dates back to the 1970s.

The call for evidence is the first step in the consultatation process which could lead to major changes in the way the Atol scheme operates and the way it is funded.

Companies and members of the public are being asked to come forward with ideas on how to ensure “robust consumer protection, lower risk for government and improve the regulatory burden for business”.

Abta said it would seek its members’ views on the scheme via an online survey in the next two weeks. It will also host a number of workshops around the country to give members an opportunity to discuss the issues, followed by a webinar for those who cannot attend. The association will submit its response in the second week of August.

Burns said: “Everybody recognises that passengers need to be sure they can get home if things go wrong and they can rest assured that this protection will continue.

“But the systems used by Atol date back to the 1970s so the time is right for a fundamental review to consider whether the scheme is still the best way of providing consumers with financial protection or whether there might be more efficient and effective alternatives.”
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said: “Although it is very early in the process, this call for evidence may ultimately result in some fundamental changes to financial protection in the travel industry. 

“As with all changes to policy it is important that the industry’s case is made early and made well and I urge all members, particularly Atol-holders and other package travel organisers, to come forward with their views to help shape our response to government.”

He added: “It is important to note there are no immediate changes announced or indicated in the call for evidence, which may come as reassuring news to travel businesses who are still adjusting to last year’s reforms of the Atol scheme.”