The countdown to the launch of Atol Certificates has begun with the Association of Atol Companies warning there is little prospect of many independent agents complying by the October 1 deadline.
Association adviser Alan Bowen said some tour operators had done nothing to prepare.
“The industry isn’t ready,” he said. “There are tour operators selling 5,000-15,000 seats who have not done anything. There are operators who haven’t issued agency agreements. There are agents with no agency agreements.
“Most operators don’t want agents issuing certificates; some are still deciding; and some reasonable-sized operators are still working on their systems. There are 2,000 independent agents and I’m not sure 50% have a computer system that could create an Atol Certificate.”
Bowen claimed there is panic in parts of the sector, adding: “Many agents didn’t appreciate that if they can’t issue a certificate from October 1 they can’t take a payment. The CAA won’t waver on that.”
He said: “There will be bookings without the correct documents. But it won’t come to light until there is a failure. It could be a real dog’s dinner.” Bowen suggested: “It could be Christmas before everyone is ready.”
The CAA declined to comment, but Travel Weekly understands the regulator is unlikely to take immediate action against companies that can demonstrate they are taking action to comply.
However, the CAA confirmed: “There will be a PR push from October 1 involving the government.”
Abta urged Atol-holders to contact agents to explain their plans and get agency agreements in place as a matter of urgency.
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