In the 40 years I’ve been in the travel business, it has experienced a few serious crises.
But without a doubt, the industry has emerged from those difficult periods stronger and more profitable. I see no reason to think that this economic crisis will be any different.
And throughout all those years, there has always been one constant: ABTA.
Some of you may think that ABTA is too bureaucratic or that it doesn’t listen, and I accept that improvements can be made.
But in my experience, self-regulation is preferable than government regulation, which would be the likely outcome if ABTA was to disappear. Being regulated by elected agents and operators cannot be compared to being regulated by faceless civil servants.
Under the current board and the leadership of Mark Tanzer, I believe that great strides have been made and will continue. ABTA is the gold standard by which travel trade associations worldwide judge themselves.
I could list dozens of benefits of being an ABTA member to show that it offers exceptional value for money. However, there are three compelling reasons why none of the so-called alternatives come close.
First, the consumer awareness of the brand. You’d have to invest huge sums of money over many years to get the level of recognition, trust and consumer confidence that ABTA has built up over 50 years.
Second, no other trade association can provide ABTA’s level of financial protection. ABTA has substantial cash reserves as a result of its long experience in successfully monitoring the financial performance of its members.
Handing over this responsibility to the insurance industry would be madness. Indeed, would the insurance industry want to take it on and if it did, who would set the premiums? The insurance market turned its back on travel in the late 1980s and 20 years later it seems to be happening again.
And finally, where would you find the level of expertise that you get at ABTA? From its experienced travel lawyers to its responsible tourism programmes, ABTA’s services are simply the best.
And that’s before considering its connections to the government. ABTA’s reputation with all political parties is unrivalled.
As an ABTA director I may be biased, but a travel industry without ABTA would set us back 40 years.
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