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news conference report Abta Travel Matters June 3 ■ Riverbank Park Plaza Hotel ■ London


Abta convened a post-election conference to emphasise the importance of the travel industry. Dan Pearce reports


Play fair, says Tui chief


TUI BOSS Dermot Blastland has urged the government to apply its key principles of fairness and responsibility to its dealings with the travel industry.


Blastland told the Abta


Travel Matters conference that the economic circum- stances of the country at large should not be used as a “convenient excuse for the government to avoid accepting responsibility” over the multi-million-pound losses faced by the travel industry after the volcanic ash crisis.


Blastland said the indus-


try was right to demand compensation because the regulatory authorities had made the impact of the ash cloud worse. “We are not asking for a hand-out or a bail-


APD.


Abta calls for protest over flight tax plans


PLANNED DRAMATIC hikes in taxes on long-haul flights later this year have prompted a new call from Abta for action on Air Passenger Duty. At the Travel Matters conference, the associa- tion appealed to members, representatives of the travel industry, holidaymakers and business travellers to protest to their MPs about any move to increase tax about the increase in APD in November.


Abta has welcomed government plans to switch APD to being calculated on a per-aircraft basis, but has warned that using this as an ex-


12 11.06.2010


Dermot Blastland: “We are not asking for a hand-out or a bail-out... compensation is due”


out,” he said. “We are com- petitive companies, run well, but believe compensation is due when we are expected to be the insurer of last resort in looking after a nation’s citizens.”


Describing how last


month’s closure of airspace had cost Tui £90m, Blast- land said Thomson and First Choice had “gone on the front foot” to repatriate 100,000 of their customers back to the UK within 48 hours of airspace being opened. “And we accommodated


them overseas while the air- space remained closed,” he continued.


“We met our responsibilities – and more – without question and we expect to be treated as fairly as we treated our customers.”


cuse to ramp up the tax will price average travellers out of foreign holidays, put jobs at risk and damage the UK’s position as a global aviation hub.


Abta also believes that the banding arrange- ments for APD are punishing developing economies that receive UK visitors – and is arguing that passenger duty should be scrapped completely when the emissions trading scheme comes into force in 2012. Abta’s head of public affairs Luke Pollard told delegates: “Passengers attending the World Cup in South Africa will be paying over 50% of the cost of an average match ticket in tax simply to fly there – and that is why we will be talking to this new government to ensure the per-aircraft duty is banded fairly, and priced reasonably.”


TRAVEL RISK. Tanzer warns of slide


THE TRAVEL industry could slide backwards unless it can persuade the government to act immediately on key issues, Abta chief Mark Tanzer told the conference. Issues ranged from the volcanic ash to the rising cost of APD, he said. Tanzer pinpointed three key areas the indus-


try needed to settle with the new government: ■ Reimbursements for the cost of supporting tourists stranded abroad


■ Rumours that APD will soon rise even further despite the switch to a per-aircraft basis


■ The need to clarify the law surrounding consumer protection once and for all “If we’re not moving forward on these issues, we risk sliding backwards,” said Tanzer. At the conference, Abta also launched a new plan to help travel agents and operators build a sustainable future for each other – and issued a new pledge to unite the travel industry.


ECONOMY. The euro ‘will break up’


A POSSIBLE collapse of the euro will herald the return of southern Europe as a serious holiday destination, according to a leading economist. Dougie McWilliams, chief executive and founder of the Centre for Economic and Business Research, said he was convinced the euro was on borrowed time, thanks in part to the banking crises in Greece and Spain. “The euro will break up, it’s only a matter of timing. And when it does, tourism will become a focal point again in southern Europe. It won’t just be cheap and cheerful; those countries will come up with a range of offers for the UK.” Although McWilliams went on to paint a chal- lenging picture for the UK economy over the next two years, he said travel sales would hold up well as people still needed a break.


ttglive.com


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