23 Feb

ABTA’s first Travel Finance Conference

We were delighted to welcome over 100 delegates to ABTA’s first Travel Finance Conference held in London this week. The event was moderated by ABTA’s Director of Finance and Resources, Carolyn Watson and included a range of speakers including professional advisers, ABTA Members and other industry specialists.

The morning sessions concentrated on the commercial side of travel finance, looking at the global economic picture, specific travel financial trends, mergers and acquisitions and also covered the cost of doing business, with presentations on foreign exchange hedging and card payments.

The afternoon focussed on compliance and regulation, covering both specific accounting and tax updates, plus updates on data protection, cyber security, and the Package Travel Directive.

The final sessions of the day centred upon VAT and in particular the Tour Operators' Margin Scheme (TOMS). David Bennett, a specialist on Travel VAT from Elman Wall Bennett updated delegates on an EU commissioned study on the future of TOMS. The study will consider potential reform options ranging from complete abolition of TOMS to maintaining the status quo. ABTA will be participating in this important study both directly through its own VAT Working Group and via ECTAA, the European travel association. Delegates were also encouraged to contribute their views to ABTA.

TOMS discussion continued on a panel discussion where David was joined by Colin Scott-Morton, Senior Policy Advisor from the HMRC, Mike Cunningham, Deputy Director, VAT & Excise–Business & International Tax Group, HM Treasury and Iain Donaldson, partner from Hill Dickinson. The key issue discussed was what would happen to VAT and in particular TOMS following the UK’s departure from the European Union. Both Colin and Mike were unable to provide concrete information on the future post Brexit, but importantly stressed that both HMRC and HM Treasury were in “listening mode”, keen to understand the travel sector’s issues through events such as ABTA’s travel finance event, and would continue to be in dialogue with ABTA to hear Members’ views.

We’d like to thank the headline sponsor Hill Dickinson and event sponsors, BDO, Elman Wall, Elman Wall Bennett, Markadis, Moore Stephens, The Travel Trade Consultancy and White Hart Associates for their involvement in the conference.

"An extremely good event – one to keep on ABTA’s Agenda” Mark Caldicott, White Hart Associates 

“V. useful, good to get away from the silo of the company and gain a broader perspective of issues” Kirk Naylor-Vane, Simpson Travel