High street members of the Association of Travel Agents have unanimously voted to support All Leisure Group chief Roger Allard for Abta chairman.
There is concern that the departure of former chairman John McEwan following the resignation of Travel Republic’s Kane Pirie leaves the Abta board short of travel agency representation and with no online travel agency represented.
Allard, who is fighting Sunvil’s Noel Josephides for the top elected post at Abta, is seen by the ATA as a uniting figure, bringing detailed knowledge of tour operating, travel agents and cruise.
Founding member Steve Endacott, chief executive of On Holiday Group, said: “We formed the ATA as a single issue body to fight for fair treatment of agents within the impending European package travel regulations and to balance the power held by UK tour operators within Abta.
“It is key that the ATA united behind the voices of independent high street agents and online travel agents and this unanimous vote clearly shows we are achieving this.”
Barrhead Travel owner Bill Munro said: “I have the greatest respect for Noel, but he is clearly an old school tour operator and in the current circumstances would be a highly divisive figure to lead Abta.
“Roger Allard has a much more balanced background and does not head a traditional tour operation with the natural bias that this brings.”
Hays Travel founder John Hays said: “The ATA has decided to back Roger Allard on the basis of his broad range of travel experience and his proven ability to effectively lobby important stakeholders such as the CAA.
“For me the decision was based solely on the merits of each candidate, although I do accept that Noel could be a divisive appointmemt.”
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