July is the start of ABTA’s financial year, which is always a good opportunity to take stock and reflect.
I said at the start of 2018 that the first six months would be tough for the industry as we work to adapt to three new major regulatory changes. And while that has certainly been the case, there have been plenty of positives as well.
The latest industry data shows that bookings for holidays abroad in summer 2018 are tracking 6% above where they were this time last year. As anticipated, Eastern Mediterranean countries are seeing an increase, with bookings for Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt all up significantly on 2017.
There has also been some progress on important issues. The Government acted on ABTA’s ask to bring sickness claims abroad into the same fixed legal cost regime for personal injuries in the UK. This took effect on 5 May - in time for this year’s peak holiday season. The Government is also going to ban cold calling by claims management companies about holiday sickness, another of ABTA’s asks, and that will come into force next April.
In March, the independent review into airline insolvency was launched, and I know many of you are already engaging in this review. ABTA has been arguing for quite some time that financial protection measures haven’t kept pace with how people book their holidays, so it is good to see the review moving forward and looking to find a solution, and we’re working closely with the review team on this.
Where there has been less progress is on Brexit. During this period of uncertainty, I have spent a lot of time speaking with Ambassadors and officials from EU destination countries, as well as Ministers in the UK government and representatives in Brussels, reiterating the importance of the UK travel industry, and highlighting the areas that are a priority to resolve. They have all acknowledged to me the importance of our industry and the need to have effective arrangements around travel after we leave the EU. This is certainly encouraging but, with March 2019 not far away, we need to see progress from the Government.
You can find read more about progress against our plan, and ABTA’s wider activities in support of our Members over the last 12 months in our Your Year at ABTA report.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive