Abta has called for a period of expert review and detailed analysis of the UK’s financial protection before any decisions are made about the next phase of reform.

The association has submitted its views to the Department for Transport’s call for evidence on the future of Atol, the deadline for which passed today.

Abta consulted members and found there was general support for a simplification of UK regulation, but uncertainties remain due to the ongoing reform of the Package Travel Directive in Europe.

Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: “The message coming through from our members is that the current system of protection in the UK should be reviewed, particularly with regards to simplifying the structure of the scheme, for the benefit of businesses and consumers.

“However, much more work needs to be done to understand the impacts of changes, financial or otherwise, before the government puts forward proposals for consultation, not least taking into account requirements of a revised Package Travel Directive.

“Our members have had to embrace a great deal of regulatory change in the last two years and we are now in the midst of digesting and responding to some important changes being proposed by European policy-makers to the PTD.

“We need to get that right before drawing any conclusions about the future of Atol. Specifically, Abta has proposed a period of expert review in relation to the regulatory structures and risk financing of the UK arrangements for compliance with the Package Travel Directive.

“We do not believe that it is possible to determine the best structure for Atol arrangements without further detailed analysis being undertaken.”

Abta has sought views from members during the summer through a series of regional workshops, online questionnaires and webinars, as well as through its usual policy group meetings.

Abta released the following summary of its response:

  • Highlights general support among Members for the simplification of UK regulation on consumer protection, with a single Government department to lead on Package Travel and ATOL, rather than the current split of DfT and BIS. It further shows a majority of Members are supportive of a single set of Regulations for all protected travel arrangements, with a single licensing system, but only if there are no significant additional costs or burdens.

  • Demonstrates a diverse range of views from Members on how the scheme of protection should be structured and funded. ABTA will support all options that are credible – we are supporting choice and competition – while keeping Member costs down.

  • Emphasises the need for more work to be done to assess properly the impacts of changes to the structure and funding of the scheme, taking into account the future scope of the Package Travel Directive (which is currently under revision in Europe). This work should be done before the Government consults the industry on changes to the structure or financing of the scheme.

The association’s response may be read in full on a dedicated page on its website.