Abta has called for “proper enforcement of regulation” on businesses, including the likes of Airbnb.
Chief executive Mark Tanzer told the Abta Travel Matters conference in London on Wednesday: “It is not regulation that is the problem – it is regulations that are badly enforced, so the good guys play by the rules and the bad guys don’t.”
He said: “I would make a plea for proper enforcement of regulations.” Instead, he said: “We’ve seen the Department for Business radically weakened in numbers.”
The government announced in April that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which will develop and enforce the new Package Travel Regulations, is poised to lose 4,000 staff.
Tanzer added: “Overcrowding in key destinations is becoming pressing an issue. Without controls, we know tourism can kill tourism.
“At some point we have to start developing mechanisms to manage tourism in some destinations. By its nature, travel needs regulating and it needs co-operation between countries.”
Referring to the development of accommodation-listing platforms such as Airbnb, he said: “New York is taking action to regulate apartment lettings on Airbnb.
“City centre areas need regulation. Hotels need licences. Other areas need to be addressed – health and safety, taxes and so on.
“We can see the strain on facilities of a city like Barcelona and on its citizens.”
Abta chairman Noel Josephides agreed, saying: “The disruptors would not be so disruptive if they were regulated the same as the legacy industry.
“If we want to consider ourselves a mature, responsible industry we must ensure a strong and fair regulatory system.”