ABTA has outlined proposals to restructure the association with a new ‘super council’ at the helm and greater influence from the regions.

Although Newman Street officials believe there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the existing set-up, they admitted the time was right to streamline and modernise its image.

Chief executive Ian Reynolds said: “The board felt that as the industry has seen such dramatic change, it was appropriate to look at the structure of ABTA.

“There is no overwhelming problem. We have just started our most recent membership survey and early indications are quite positive.” He stressed the idea “was only being floated” at this stage.

At the centre of the plans is a move to merge Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Councils to form a new board comprising 18-20 directors.

It would meet six times a year and have sole power to make decisions.

“The board members would be elected by turnover band with a postal ballot involving all members,” said Reynolds. “But it should reflect the industry. The multiples have 46% of retail outlets but have only a 15% representation on TAC.

“A single board would cut costs and reduce bureaucracy.”

He said the changes in the industry have resulted in nearly identical issues being discussed separately by both TAC and TOC.

Reynolds also confirmed plans to set up a 15-strong regional council. It would be made up of 11 regional council chairman and four representatives from consortiums. About five regional council members would sit on the main board.

Reynolds dismissed speculation that the regional council would have no teeth and stressed it would be a useful debating forum for independents.

“It would not have any executive power but it would be able to direct its board members who in turn could gain the support of miniples and smaller tour operators,” he said. “I believe it could be quite influential.”

Other proposals include involving sectors of the industry not currently represented including TV Travel Shop and Microsoft Expedia.

Nothing can be changed without 75% of the membership voted in favour of the proposals.

Association proposes to cut costs and bureaucracy