Andy Cooper said his appointment as Thomas Cook director of government and external affairs is a sign of the growing importance of lobbying for the trade.
Cooper, who is currently ABTA head of development, will take up the position in July and he will be based at the Thomas Cook Airlines offices in Manchester.
While he will be initially focusing on core issues including Air Passenger Duty and financial protection, Cooper said he will not just be lobbying the British government, but the European Commission too.
Cooper said: "There's a recognition of the importance of having a strong voice externally.
"It is down to me to lead Thomas Cook in political issues globally and not just in the UK."
He said he is confident he will be able to make the move from the public sector to the private sector having worked for MyTravel before he joined the Federation of Tour Operators, which merged with ABTA.
Cooper said: "I'm a tour operator by background and instinct; it will be like going home and going back to the same areas I came from."
Cooper's departure from ABTA follows the redundancy of ABTA head of policy David Marshall in March.
ABTA will be holding a review of its political lobbying, which it is hoped will be completed by the time Cooper leaves.
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