New Atol accredited bodies are set to emerge for small tour operators, according to the CAA’s head of consumer protection group David Moesli (pictured).
He told delegates at yesterday’s McIntyre Hudson and Barclays annual travel seminar that at least two organisations are looking to set new tour operator accredited bodies up.
Moesli was speaking as the CAA unveiled its plans to shake up the Atol protection regime having decided to scrap plans to do away with Small Business Atols for smaller firms.
Currently there are seven accredited or umbrella bodies providing group protection for travel agents and taking the burden of regulation away from smaller firms.
Moesli said: “We have had some other organisations saying I think there may be an accredited body model that works for small tour operators as well.
“We are likely to see a few organisations come out with a model for small tour operators as an alternative to firms getting a full Atol themselves.
“What there will be is a lot of choice and people need to choose what’s the best way for them to come in [to Atol].
Pressed on the likelihood of such a model emerging Moesli added: “One is in advanced discussions and is almost certainly going to launch something, the other is a bit more far away.”
Moesli described the Atol rebalancing announced yesterday as an example of better government regulation.
He said increasingly reporting and oversight will move online for the majority of Atol holders who toe the line allowing the CAA to direct resources to catching those that flout the rules.
He said this was why the regulator was proposing to bring in a new accreditation scheme for industry accountants, so that the quality of information it receives is improved.
“Even some larger companies have made errors along the way,” Moesli said. “If you are going to streamline the system you need someone at the other end – the accountant or consultant – that actually understands what they are doing.
“There just are not the resources at the moment to go out and chase all these people [who are breaking the rules] down. The majority of licence holders are very compliant.
“We do not really want to interfere with that and want to let them get on with running their businesses and have the regulatory bit be as simple as possible so we can then put our resources into the chasing then people who you think we should be chasing.”
Moesli was asked about the position of the Air Travel Trust Fund that backs Atol, and he said it was now £70 million in the black.
He was asked if this meant there might be a revision of the £2.50 per passenger APC contribution currently levied to replenish the fund.
However, he said the big unknown was the current Package Travel Directive reform currently going through Europe.
Moesli said there was a chance that the UK government’s response to that reform could see a different scheme to Atol being brought in.
He warned this is likely to be a long process and it was unlikely that there may not be any decision about APC levels before early 2017.
“The First World War ran for four years, I see this taking as long as the first war.”
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