Carnival UK hopes to complete the process of switching its agent partners to new payments procedures to eliminate its risk of dealing with the trade by the end of this year.
The UK market leader announced last year that it wanted to reduce its liability of working with agents and it would insist all get their customers to pay it direct rather than paying the agency first before the money is passed on.
This prompted widespread concern among agents about the loss of a vital source of cashflow, but Carnival says it remains committed to the policy although it has softened an originally aggressive timescale for implementation.
Carnival was accused of a knee jerk reaction to the failure of Gill’s Cruise Centre last year, but insisted its thinking pre-dated that, although the operator was left millions of pounds out of pocket as it did not have credit insurance with Gill’s.
Giles Hawke, Carnival UK sales director, said: “We are working with every agent jointly to remove and mitigate the risk to our business of a third party holding our money.
“A number of agents have moved across to direct payments and we are working through a transition with other agents. Everyone will be moving to a world where we do not have risk.”
When Fred Olsen stopped selling through Thomas Cook in April after its credit insurance cover was pulled by Euler Hermes direct payments was an option the line said it was prepared to accept.
Hawke confirmed Carnival UK was in talks with Thomas Cook, the UK’s largest seller of cruise and a key agent partner, about future arrangements but would not go into any more detail about those discussions.
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