TUI Travel boss Dermot Blastland has been accused of scaremongering after predicting as many as 100,000 holidaymakers will be stranded overseas and one million will lose their bookings due to operator collapses this year.
Sunvil managing director and ABTA board member Noel Josephides said the TUI Travel UK and Ireland managing director made the comments to attract bookings away from smaller companies.
Josephides added: “Market leaders have the responsibility of sowing confidence about the industry rather than scaremongering.
“It is very easy to make off-the-cuff comments and it is being done to attract customers to Thomas Cook and TUI Travel by sowing fear in the minds of the consumers that if they book with smaller companies other than the two big names they risk losing their holidays.”
Jetset chairman John Bond argued that, while some companies will collapse, operators are better prepared for the economic downturn than Blastland has suggested. He also said his comments will fuel the lates market as consumers worry about losing their cash.
He added: “Every operator is trying to get more than its fair share of the market and that’s what these comments
Wendy Wu Tours managing director Laurence Hicks said while he appreciated Blastland was trying to highlight ongoing problems with financial protection, this should be done in a positive way rather than by discussing tour operator collapses.
He said: “It is the wrong message at the wrong time.”
Blastland defended the comments, saying they were made to heighten ongoing problems with the lack of industry-wide protection in the event of further failures. TUI Travel’s latest advertising campaign is designed to promote the benefits of ATOL-protected product across the industry.
Blastland said: “I’m surprised at the comments from ATOL-bonded companies saying this is a shot at the little guys by the big guys.”
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