Boost for ATAS as Travel Counsellors reverses stance and signs on

Issues & Trends – June 2014

Boost for ATAS as Travel Counsellors reverses stance and signs on

IN a stunning endorsement of the AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS), Travel Counsellors has reversed its previous stance and signed on to the scheme.

Travel Counsellors founder and chairman David Speakman has in the past been clear that he did not see the need for the home-based agency chain to join ATAS and that it would be arranging its own funds guarantee scheme for clients.

But just days ahead of the July 1 ATAS start-up the company’s managing director Steve Byrne said he was “delighted” to announce that TC is an accredited participant of ATAS.

At the same time the company is proceeding with its own client funds guarantee arrangements.

“We believe we share the same commitment as AFTA towards maintaining high professional standards within the industry,” he said.

“ATAS will certainly give consumers a greater confidence in dealing with accredited agents, supporting our own focus on providing the highest standards of personal service to our customers.
“We also commend AFTA for encouraging agents to offer consumers financial protection. As a company we are proud to offer our own voluntary and complete financial protection promise to our agents and their customers, so they know their money is 100 per cent protected in the eventuality of any failure. We encourage others within the industry to follow our lead.”

Welcoming TC to ATAS, AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury also commended the company for implementing its own “voluntary and comprehensive scheme of financial protection.”

Travel Counsellors becomes the second of the three major home-based agency chains to back ATAS, joining Mobile Travel Agents (MTA) which has been an enthusiastic supporter from the outset. (The major bricks and mortar chains are also on board.)

MTA co-managing director Roy Merricks earlier this month took aim at the chairman of the other chain, TravelManagers’ Barry Mayo, a persistent critic of ATAS in its present form.

Merricks hit out at “negative assertions” that Travel Agent Intermediary Failure Insurance (TAIFI) should be a mandatory ATAS requirement and that without this, ATAS is doomed to failure as soon as the first accredited member fails financially.

“Despite TravelManagers not being an industry representative body, Mayo claims he has been contacted by independent travel agents endorsing these assertions,” Merricks said.

“It speaks volumes, however, that from what we are hearing, enquiry by travel agents for TAIFI insurance is extremely low.

“Meanwhile, it seems ATAS has a backlog of several hundred active applications, with many more commencing the process each day.

“I would pose the question, if TAIFI is so important to so many and needs to be mandatory, why would there not be hundreds of applications for TAIFI?”

A single mandatory insurance policy is not the answer to everyone’s needs, he said.


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