ABTA chief says travel industry must improve or risk legal curbs

The travel industry must dramatically improve its record on consumer protection, product quality and health and safety or it will face Government intervention, according to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).

Speaking at the 2006 ABTA Conference, the organisation’s chief executive Mark Tanzer says that the middle tier of tour operators and airlines, particularly the budget operators, has shifted away from safety and quality, and towards price.

Tanzer says: “The advent of tailor-made arrangements using the internet, and the massive growth of the no-frills carriers means everybody puts enormous focus on price. There is only so far we can go in cost-cutting to match that competition, before it eats into the quality of service to consumers.”

He also says not enough is done to protect consumers: “The emergence of a new middle tier of operators offering dynamic packages but no liability or protection stands to damage consumer confidence in our industry in the end. If we lose that trust then we seriously risk Government intervention in the way we are regulated, which none of us want.”

He made the comments as the body launched a new health and safety initiative, which offers members access to an independently audited hotel database. It is also reviving its ABTASure travel insurance programme, previously available in the 1970s, which insures passengers up to 85 years old for amounts below £5,000.

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