The chairman of Aito, the Specialist Travel Association, has defended Abta after it emerged accommodation-only bookings made with Super Break were not financially protected.

Super Break collapsed at the end of last week with 20,000 forward bookings affecting 53,000 customers.

It has since emerged Super Break, an Abta member, chose not to protect sales of its accommodation-only bookings, meaning many agents look set to foot the bill.

A number of agents have accused Abta of allowing Super Break to include  “misleading information” in brochure materials suggesting they were protected.

But Aito chairman Derek Moore said the responsibility lay with Super Break.

“I have read with interest the fact that agents are complaining that Abta did not make it clear that hotel-only bookings were not covered in the event of Super Break’s failure,” he said. “That would be difficult for any trade association to do.

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“I would argue that Super Break should have done so itself via its booking conditions and via its sales team – but it’s a challenging message to explain clearly; it’s only when things go wrong that the relevance of 100% bonding becomes blindingly obvious.

“It’s sad that it often takes a collapse to make people, both within and without the industry, realise the importance of the 100%-bonded message.‎ Perhaps it will now be clearer to agents and consumers why Aito emphasises that all holidays booked with our operator members are covered, even accommodation-only bookings.”

Aito says its members offer “100% financial security” including on accommodation-only bookings because it only accepts members who bond all single-element bookings.

“The unpalatable bottom line is that ‎it costs money to offer full financial protection and, if some holidays seem to be cheaper than others, there is often a good reason – corner cutting,” Moore said.