Abta is to begin a process of allowing travel businesses which choose to protect their customers’ monies through trust accounts into its membership.
The Abta board has agreed that the association should open discussions with potentially-suitable trust account providers, with the aim of helping its membership to become more inclusive and to give members more financial protection options.
Abta said it will require confirmation that any trust arrangements operated by tour operators meet the requirements of the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.
For travel agent members, Abta will need confirmation that the monies are held in the trust account until released solely on instruction from the principal supplier.
Abta stressed it will not be managing or financially protecting trust accounts itself; and will not be responsible for dealing with claims arising from any company failure.
Rachel Jordan, director of membership and financial protection, said: “Our recent dialogue with members, including in developing our response to the CAA’s proposals on Atol reform, shows a strong desire for members to have flexibility in the form of financial protection they choose to use.
“This move allows us to provide that greater flexibility, while continuing high and robust standards for Abta membership, to the benefit of both our sector and our members’ customers.”
Travel agent action group Target welcomed Abta’s move.
Co-founder Jill Waite said it will “give members a choice in how they protect customers monies”.
Fellow co-founder Graeme Brett added: “Many Abta members have had difficulty in obtaining the bonding required by Abta due to the reduction in the number of bond providers.
“Members can now explore alternative options and remain part of the Abta community.”
Trust provider Protected Trust Services said it was “delighted” to see trust accounts “finally recognised by Abta”.
Head of business development Jacqui Landen said: “Working together will inevitably make the industry stronger and open choices to UK travel businesses. To navigate through Covid and to emerge stronger, choice and modernisation are needed, and this news is an incredibly positive step for UK travel businesses.”