Abta has defended a “car crash” interview on TV in which Piers Morgan said the travel sector is “damn greedy” for “hiking prices” during school holidays.
Abta media relations manager Sean Tipton appeared on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday to discuss the issue.
Describing “a collaboration between holiday firms and airlines to make holidays prohibitively expensive”, Morgan listed flight price differences, one of which represented a 762% mark-up.
Tipton explained this was flight-only, and that Abta encourages booking far in advance. Morgan then asked: “When are Abta and the airlines going to stop being so damn greedy?”
Tipton said increased prices during school holidays were “simple economics” and that the average price margin over the course of a year for tour operators was about 2%.
“I don’t regard that as particularly greedy,” he added.
Agents described Morgan as “rude” and “a bully” on the Travel Gossip Facebook page.
Steve Dunne, chairman of travel tourism PR and marketing consultancy Brighter Group, described the interview as a “car crash” on Twitter.
“Sean was dignified but Morgan battered him down,” he said. “I don’t feel as an industry we had a good defence. These questions come every year and industry bodies should agree on our key defences.”
Classic Collection Holidays sales executive Sophie Thackeray said: “I don’t think it would have made much difference who took the interview – it could have been a cardboard cut-out.
“I think he [Tipton] would have given a good defence but wasn’t given the chance.”
An Abta spokesman said: “It was a pity Mr Morgan did not seem prepared to listen to Abta’s position, which is that school holidays should be staggered by region.
“The reality is that prices are set by an extremely competitive market, in which the holidays provided by Abta members consistently demonstrate value for money.”
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