Agents urged to keep up with regulation reforms

Regulatory reforms ABTA
By Harry Kemble
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ABTA has expressed concerns about the ‘significant strain’ travel companies face this year with up to six regulatory reforms currently being discussed.

Speaking at the trade association’s Travel Law Seminar on Wednesday (10 May), Luke Petherbridge, ABTA Director of Public Affairs, said it was ‘vital’ firms ‘stayed up to date’ in the coming months.

He highlighted Retained European Union Law, which commits to reviewing EU-derived laws, Package Travel Regulations, ATOL, and the Aviation Consumer Policy Framework as examples of legislative reviews that were underway in the UK.  

In addition, the European Commission is expected to publish proposals to revise the EU Package Travel Directive and the Air Passengers Rights by the autumn.

He added that businesses must be clear when responding to consultations about their own priorities, particularly as government officials and ministers currently had ‘limited bandwidth’.

Luke said: “The sheer volume of regulatory reform that we’re going to see in 2023 will significantly strain travel businesses in the UK.”

He added there was ‘a plethora of legislation and consultation facing the industry’.

“I’ve stuck to consumer regulatory reform but there’s a whole host of regulatory reform beyond that. We have something like five consultations live in the space of sustainable aviation right now,” Luke said.  

“We have a bill passing through parliament that may prohibit the sale of so-called low welfare animal attractions overseas.”

USAirtours CEO and founder Guy Novak said he was worried about how little time the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) seemed to have allowed to implement changes to ATOL.

The CAA has said it hoped to start implementing changes from April 2024.

“I accept that everything needs improving and reforming,” Guy told Travel Gossip. “My worry is about the CAA. March 2024 ATOL renewals could be subject to whatever ATOL reform changes are brought in.

“That is too short a time period. I’m concerned about the time period of implementation for those changes.”

Matt Gatenby, Travlaw Senior Partner, admitted he was concerned about how some travel agents would cope with any regulatory changes because many were operating at capacity.

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