Agents can be held responsible for failing to inform customers, says Nikki White, head of destination sustainability at Abta

When countries change their passport or visa entry requirements, it is incredibly important that travel companies are aware of these changes and inform their customers of them swiftly and efficiently.

Abta has a very good working relationship with destinations around the world and they will often choose to disseminate information about any changes through our association. These relationships give members a head start, ensuring that they can make their customers fully aware well in advance of any proposed changes.

Read Abta’s notifications

The importance of keeping up to date was demonstrated last week by media coverage of customers at risk of losing their holiday to the US due to biometric passports introduced on April 1.

The common theme in comments from the media and the public was that nobody had been made aware of this change – but Abta members should be in a position to rebut any such criticism, following two notifications 
we issued 
earlier this year.

Keeping customers informed of the relevant visa or passport requirements is an Abta code of conduct requirement, and failure to pass on the information can also result in negative media coverage.

The travel company may also be liable for any losses incurred by passengers who were unable to travel if it had not given the passengers the correct information about entry requirements.

Keep clients informed

Destinations are also increasingly looking to tourism as a source of revenue. Members may have no control over the introduction of new tourist taxes, but they certainly have an obligation to keep customers informed.

Failure to do so would probably result in criticism being directed as much at the travel company as the destination concerned.

New taxes introduced by authorities in the Balearics and Malta have been the most recent examples of this and there may well be more in the pipeline, which members will need to be aware of.

I would strongly recommend that 
all Abta members have at least one senior person in their organisation 
set up to receive our operational bulletins and Abta Today newsletter, and that they are in a position to ensure that notifications are then acted upon.

Aside from being a significant benefit to their customers, this could also save them money and avoid damaging their reputation.