Third party comment on Atol system reform

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Press Release,Travel

Commenting on today's announcement from the Department for Transport unveiling its proposals for ATOL system reform Bob Atkinson, travel analyst from price comparison website, says:

"Today's announcement of the new Flight Plus system is certainly a good start. Anything that will ensure more UK holidaymakers have both full financial protection and clarity on what they are covered for is to be applauded.

"In particular we welcome the proposal to clean up the confusion of what is and what is not a package holiday, so that any agent selling travel has to be crystal clear to the consumer as to what they are getting. And with this being backed up by clearer documentation, more holidaymakers will be able to book and travel safe in the knowledge that they will be looked after should things go wrong.

"However, there are a number of travel firms out there who will now have to take a long hard look at how they operate, should the proposals come into force. They will become fully liable for their customers if they choose to take on the ATOL licence, which has potential implications in terms of cash flow and liability insurance. Many others will instead stop selling 'packages' created from cheap flights and holidays and force customers to either spend more on fully ATOL protected trips through their agent, or encourage more DIY bookings away from agents where holidaymakers receive no protection at all but still access a cheap overall deal.
"The UK travel industry has no consistent protection for travellers which comprehensively covers all booking methods. Whilst the ATOL protection scheme offers an excellent security blanket to those taking package holidays, many other travellers - such as those booking flights only - will still fall outside the protection scheme. Even if the new proposals were in place a couple of years ago, some passengers would still have been without protection when affected by the high profile collapses of the likes of, Globespan, Goldtrail and Kiss Flights.

"In short, the reforms do not go far enough. What the UK travel industry needs is a complete overhaul of customer protection for all forms of travel purchase, together with an overseeing body that can impose regulations and enforce customer rights across all travel providers in a consistent format.

"This reform proposal made today takes a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go."



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