Steven Freudmann has defended his role as chairman of the Institute of Travel and Tourism and the Triton Travel Group after resigning from his position on the ABTA board.
Freudmann resigned from his role as an appointed ABTA director at Friday’s board meeting in Majorca. This followed calls for his resignation after Unpackaged Holidays – an ABTA member but not ABTA bonded – went into administration, leaving large-scale debts to creditors but securing staff jobs at the company.
Freudmann was a director of Unpackaged until shortly before it went into administration and is non-executive chairman of Alpha Prospects, which is in the process of buying The Travel Club. The Travel Club bought the assets of Unpackaged, including Seligo, in a controversial pre-packaged sale.
However, it has now emerged that some ITT members are also unhappy about Freudmann’s position as chairman of ITT. One, who did not wish to be named, said: “I think he should stand down. It’s not right for him to be chairman of ITT until it’s settled down and creditors have met the administrators.”
Freudmann maintained he has no plans to step down from other chairmanships he holds. He added: “The ITT is a completely different organisation. ABTA has a regulatory and financial protection role as part of its remit. We are members of ITT as individuals in our own right so actions of other companies have no impact on the membership of ITT. My work at ITT has nothing to do with it [what has happened at ABTA].”
He said he had done “nothing wrong” but that his resignation was because he wanted to avoid damaging ABTA’s reputation. “I didn’t want to put ABTA in a position of embarrassment or having to apologise on my behalf. There were board members who felt it was inappropriate for me to stay on the board,” he added.
The meeting was held in Majorca, where two of Unpackaged’s largest creditors – Jumbo Tours and TUI’s Hotelbeds – are based. Creditors, which are owed tens of thousands of pounds, remain unhappy about the situation and have called on the administrators for a meeting to discuss the company’s sale. There are concerns that the assets of Unpackaged were not sold at market value.
Freudmann added: “Creditors will have to take that up with administrators. As far as I am aware, the administrators get a view from a professional valuer and try to get the highest value for it.”
He maintained that calls for his resignation followed a misunderstanding by overseas creditors that their money would be protected because Unpackaged Holidays was an ABTA member.
But Freudmann said: “Unpackaged was never a bonded member of ABTA. It was not protected by ABTA and never provided any assurances or guarantees. They [overseas creditors] do not fully understand the ramifications of some companies having bonding and others not. In view of that confusion they assumed their money would be protected.”
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