The government’s decision to move forward with its proposed reforms to the Atol scheme is a welcome one that will offer clarity to the industry and significantly improved protection for holidaymakers.
With the rise in phone and internet bookings in recent years, we all know that many holidaymakers now book their holiday without understanding they do not have the Atol protection they often assume they have. So these reforms are certainly needed if we are to provide holidaymakers with the financial protection and peace of mind they need.
Undoubtedly, the reforms mean the travel industry has to make changes in order for businesses to meet their new obligations. However, whilst those changes have to be made, we will not leave the industry on its own without support. We have already launched an education and awareness campaign to help businesses be prepared for when the reforms come into force. This includes a wide range of support and advice.
Some readers may well have already seen CAA representatives speaking about Atol reform at recent conferences, and there is more to come, with the CAA talking about Atol Reform at over 50 events over the coming months. We will also be publishing a simple guide to the reforms for businesses, so everyone from senior management to the shop floor will be aware of how their business will be affected.
We also recognise that the new Atol Certificate means travel companies will have to make changes to their IT systems and therefore they need time and support in order to be ready.
The government has confirmed that the Certificate will not be enforced until 1 October, and we will be issuing our own guidance on how to use the Certificate in the next few weeks. It is important to remember that, despite the changes this will mean for travel businesses, the Atol Certificate is a major boost for consumer clarity – something we should all be striving for if we want to make sure people are confident they can trust companies enough to book.
This guidance and all information on the support on offer is available from the Atol reform section of the CAA website, which we will be regularly updating with details of upcoming events and links to further advice.
With the announcement made and the education and awareness campaign launched, we are now entering a vital period. These reforms represent a huge step forward for the industry as well as for holidaymakers, and both will benefit from much improved clarity and the reform of a system to make it fit for the modern age.
The challenge for the industry and for us is to make reform a reality. There is plenty of hard work ahead if these reforms are to be delivered successfully.
Working alongside travel trade associations, we will be supporting the industry throughout, and look forward to the successful implementation of a modern Atol scheme that offers improved transparency and greater protection for consumers and industry alike.
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