As we launched the “Stop Sickness Scams” campaign yesterday it was highly encouraging to see the new Government commit to tightening the regulation of claims companies in the Queen’s Speech. Boris Johnson also wrote his Telegraph column yesterday on fraudulent holiday sickness claims in response to a letter ABTA sent him. As we have made clear over the past few months this issue is one that must be tackled urgently. The Government’s proposals are a step in the right direction for addressing Britain’s compensation culture. However, they are not enough in themselves. More urgently for the travel industry, we need the Government to address the fixed costs regime and we will continue to make this point to ministers and MPs both privately and through our campaign, which has received widespread national media coverage. It is extremely positive that this issue now has the attention of decision-makers at the highest levels of government. We will continue to engage with the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson MP, and the new Justice Secretary, David Lidington MP over the coming weeks.
Elsewhere the Queen’s Speech was slimmed-down and likely reflects the difficulty the Government is anticipating in passing some legislation through Parliament without a majority. We have seen a focus emerging from many in the Cabinet on ensuring a smooth transition from the EU, an approach that ABTA agrees with and which the industry should welcome. A “cliff-edge” Brexit would be very disruptive. ABTA also welcomes the announcement that the Government will bring forward a Travel Protection Bill, which will bring the ATOL regulations into line with the revised Package Travel Directive. We hope to see the Bill passed quickly to ensure some time for businesses to comply, and are urging the Government to also publish the overdue consultations on the other aspects of reforms to PTRs and the ATOL regime as soon as possible. You can find our full briefing on the Queen’s Speech here.
Next week we will be discussing these issues and the challenges ahead for the new Government at our annual policy event Travel Matters. A small number of tickets remain and can be booked here.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive