Opinion: You can make a difference to the shaping of Atol

Opinion: You can make a difference to the shaping of Atol

By Noel Josephides, Abta chairman

“It’s all gobbledygook,” was the comment of one agent who attended a recent Abta workshop on the Department for Transport’s Call for Evidence and the EU’s Revised Package Travel Directive.

I can understand the reaction and sympathise with how unfair – and how confusing – it can seem to many agents and operators who want to sell holidays but see everything around them changing.

When my generation started in travel there were rules that we followed and that gave us stability.

How different the last 12 years have been. We have witnessed a free-for-all in how business is done and the winners have not been traditional agents and tour operators.

The EU is trying to bring some sort of order to the way in which we all do business – not only for the consumer but also for those of us working in the industry.

Everything is confusing at the moment and the instinctive reaction is often to blame Abta. But Abta is only the messenger and it has fought an effective battle in the corridors of Brussels over the last four years.

The message Abta strived to communicate in the regional workshops is how much worse these changes could have been if a lot of work from Abta had not gone in to shaping the proposed regulations.

I wonder how many members understand this, and how important it is that they now help us to shape phase two.

Ideally, Abta would just fix things so that life can go on as before, but that is not an option.

There has to be give and take, not only between different sectors of the UK industry, but also between the EU. Those who make their voices heard will win, and that is what Abta is trying to do.

With so much at stake, I wonder why every single agent doesn’t attend the workshops designed to seek their views.

Do the majority assume Abta will do the right thing? Do members feel they will have no say? Or is it all just seen as boring?

I know there are staffing issues, but these meetings are generally after work. Is it the cost of getting to the venue? Is it the distance?

Some agents I met in Bristol made three-hour round trips, but they understood the significance of what was being discussed.

Believe me, you can make a difference. Don’t think you are too small to do so.

There are many young, intelligent and ambitious individuals who have joined the industry and who would benefit greatly by being given the opportunity to learn what the future holds for them.

On Monday (August 19), Abta is hosting a 30-minute conference call for all members to go over the issues. There is a video available that outlines the EU proposals so, if you cannot attend, make time to watch it.

Finally, there is a simple questionnaire that will give Abta information on your views, which we can incorporate into the next stage of our negotiations with the EU in September.

You can keep up to date with what we are doing on abta.com/ptd.


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