Six highly publicised travel agency collapses in recent weeks have triggered a backlash against the deregulation of the industry, calling into question the decision to abolish the Travel Compensation Fund. One travel group, however, views the situation in a different light.
Responding to comments following the collapses, and calls for further debate, MTA – Mobile Travel Agents co-managing director, Roy Merricks said while he agreed productive discourse was a good thing, “the industry must not lose sight of the bigger picture”.
Supporting deregulation, he said, was some very sound research, in the main instigated by AFTA but also drawing on wide-ranging industry consultation across a more than five-year period leading into the launch of ATAS on 1 July 2014.
Merricks said there was nothing to be gained “by change simply for the sake of change”.
The quality of the data in a Regulatory Impact Statement was compelling enough to result in a balanced conclusion “as evidenced by government ratification state by state across the country which in itself was no mean feat”, he said.
“Yes there have been six known agency failures in the twelve months since deregulation – but the reality is that the market is no longer localised geographically and product and process innovation are likely to have much larger consumer welfare effects overall.
“Simply because they can happen now, comprehensive consumer financial guarantees continue to evolve and be developed by several industry networks, all of which are intended to provide consumer protection limited to the insolvency of any of its members, effectively replacing the former TCF consumer protection.
“MTA is one of these networks and we have been extremely proactive in this area.
“In February we launched Zero Flight Risk whereby any client purchasing travel products and services through MTA can rest assured the company will guarantee their funds in the event of any approved travel intermediary or supplier becoming insolvent and being unable to deliver the product or service.
“One year on from deregulation, there is also no doubt the travel landscape has changed and will continue to change.
“But at the end of the day, the bigger picture comes back to education and elevation of standards (ATAS) and continues to be the progressive way forward.”
Edited by Peter Needham