Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer has denounced claims the association has failed in its lobbying and there is a risk the European Commission will “outlaw” agency sales.
Describing the claims as “scaremongering” and “alarmist”,Tanzer also rejected a suggestion that the Abta board is split on how to approach the EC about moves to reform the Package Travel Directive (PTD).
However, he told Travel Weekly: “This is an emotive topic. There are frustrations.”
On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott has accused Abta of “ineffective lobbying” and claimed “European bureaucrats could effectively outlaw the agency model”.
Tanzer told Travel Weekly: “I can understand why a sector of the industry is worried and trying to mobilise other agents. But at the moment these are the voices of a small number of agents, though valuable.
“They don’t want anything to happen [in Europe] to make them seem more like a ‘principal’ [in transactions], saying that would be a disaster for all agents.
“But we have not had any responses [from members] on this yet. No one knows what is in the PTD proposals yet.
“We are taking specialist advice and will keep members abreast of what is coming up and the implications, and when we see it we’ll talk to members.”
However, Tanzer said: “The review of the directive has been undertaken with a view to extending its scope, not reducing it.”
Referring to the introduction of Flight-Plus protection in the UK, Tanzer said: “The government was determined to introduce protection for these sales. We were determined agents should be able to provide protection while remaining agents.
“The OTA position is that they want Flight Plus in Europe. We have said it’s critical the EU allows agents to carry on as agents and not be forced to become principals.
“That is our position and it has been consistent. We do not have a divided board.
“We want to work with the OTAs. We have a lot of fights on our hands in Europe. We don’t want an internal Abta dispute to affect our ability to lobby effectively.
“I would be disappointed if the OTAs felt the need to leave.”
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