ATOL Questions and Answers
In your opinion, how has the industry responded to the new regulations and what needs to happen before April 2012?
Considering there is a lot of information for the trade to get to grips with, we’ve been pleased with the response. There has been a real willingness to engage with us. Our open days and other industry events were really well subscribed, and we know people are making use of the advice and guidance we’ve made available as well.
But the key for agents now is to make sure they are ready for 30th April. That means looking at what the reforms mean for the way they sell holidays, considering the options available to them and then taking action to make sure they have the appropriate level of protection. This is going to be law, so agents have to be ready.
Are you confident that the UK Travel Industry will be ready for the legislation in April?
Travel organisers obviously have a responsibility to take the necessary action to ensure they comply with the new regulations, but I do believe the majority of the trade will be ready. We’ve been working closely with the industry for a number of months now, and will continue to, so the trade gets the support it needs. The Government’s decision to not introduce the ATOL Certificate until October also gives travel organisers extra time to prepare.
What, specifically should independent agents be doing in the run up to the new legislation being rolled out?
It’s vital that agents are aware of the changes, understand them and fully consider how their business will be affected. Doing nothing is simply not an option.
Do you think consumers understand the importance of buying travel with an ATOL protected agent?
Consumers want to know that their holiday is protected; they want that peace of mind and especially at a time when many people across the country have less money in their pockets. For some time now though, there has been confusion over what is protected and what isn’t, and that’s exactly why these reforms are being introduced. The reforms will make the picture a lot clearer for the consumer, and we plan to work hard to promote the changes to them once ATOL Certificates are being issued. Travel organisers too have a role in promoting to their customers the importance of ATOL protection.
Will the CAA be promoting ATOL protection going forward?
Our first priority is to make sure the travel trade understands the reforms and are taking necessary action. The next step will be to get consumers on board. We’ll be working on a consumer-facing campaign towards the end of the year, and hope to work very closely with the trade on this.
When do you anticipate that airline holidays will be brought into the ATOL regs?
We’re aware this is an issue that many people in the trade feel strongly about, but primary legislation is required to bring airlines holidays into the scheme so it wasn’t possible to do this as part of the current reforms. However, the Civil Aviation Bill proposes giving Secretary of State the power to introduce airlines into the scheme following consultation. The Bill is currently going through Parliament, so we will need to see the outcome of that process before we can say how this situation will develop.
What will success look like for the CAA?
These reforms are about making sure consumers know when their holiday is protected, and by whom. That’s the outcome we’re all working to achieve. In the long-term, we want to see the ATOL Certificate become an essential item for every holidaymaker booking ATOL protected travel – much in the same way many people take their insurance documents wherever they travel.
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