ABTA could lobby over domestic tourism

ABTA could lobby over domestic tourism

ABTA could soon be playing a larger role in domestic tourism.

ABTA head of development Andy Cooper said he is now reviewing the association's political lobbying following the merger of ABTA and the Federation of Tour Operators and the redundancy of ABTA head of policy David Marshall last month.

ABTA has come under criticism as the redundancy raised concerns it will not be pursuing its efforts to represent the trade in government.

However, Cooper who has taken on the lobbying responsibility, is keen to launch a review of whether ABTA could play a bigger role in backing and lobbying the government on domestic tourism issues.

Cooper said: "One of the policy positions we've got to have a look at is UK tourism and where we stand on it, as there are some of our members who are involved with that.

"Clearly there is a role for ABTA, but what we've got to be cautious about is there are a number of other bodies who are involved in [domestic tourism]."

Cooper said the core issues he will continue to focus on as part of the association's political lobbying are: Air Passenger Duty, financial protection, the package travel regulations and immigration and border control.

He said the association is still hopeful the government can be persuaded to waive APD as a way of stimulating the industry, while he believes the Civil Aviation Authority must do more to explain why it needs to increase the £1 levy.

He said: "The government generally doesn't recognise [the importance of] the outbound sector. It's forgetting we're a sector employing around 100,000 people.

"One of the challenges is to make sure that those people who monitor the trade understand that." A date has yet to be set for the review.

n ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer has written to the chancellor of the exchequer Alistair Darling calling on him to address the key issues of tourism taxation, APD, financial protection, VAT and visa costs in the Budget, which is due on April 22.

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