ABTA: The UK Government continues to drag its feet

Guest Contributor

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Influential body, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), has published further guidance today for Members and customers on holiday amendments and refunds, as the industry continues to wait for the Government to provide clarity and support from its side.

ABTA has developed additional guidance for Members on refund protection, including the use of Refund Credit Notes. This guidance sets out standardised rules for Refund Credit Notes to ensure that travellers are protected, particularly around insolvency. The guidance makes it clear what information should be included in a Refund Credit Note. It also reiterates that Refund Credit Notes are not the same as vouchers, which do not come with financial protection.

Mark Tanzer

The organisation’s website now also includes updated information for customers on why delays to refunds for package holidays may be occurring, what we’re asking the Government to do and what a Refund Credit Note is. This includes clarifying that Refund Credit Notes preserve a customer’s right to a refund for a package holiday and that they come with the same financial protection as the original booking.  The information also makes it clear what should be included in a Refund Credit Note, in line with ABTA’s guidance to Members.  There is also a useful FAQ that is designed to answer the many questions that concerned customers may have, whose holidays have been affected because of this crisis.

A Refund Credit Note entitles customers to rebook a holiday at a future date or receive a cash refund at the expiry date of the note at the latest (if the original booking was for a package holiday). The expiry date is based on a travel company’s financial protection arrangements, which will vary by company. It also retains the financial protection that came with original booking.

“ABTA is continuing to provide guidance to help businesses”

Meanwhile, the industry continues to respond to ABTA’s call to action to support its “Save Future Travel” campaign.  In the week since the campaign launched, nearly 24,000 letters have been sent and ABTA is in contact with a number of MPs about the campaign who have been inundated with messages from supporters. It is important that any replies from MPs are shared with ABTA’s Public Affairs team at savefuturetravel@abta.co.uk.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “In the absence of any help or information from the Government, ABTA is continuing to provide guidance to help businesses affected by the pandemic who have not received money back from suppliers and who are not in a position to provide refunds in 14 days.

It is important that ABTA Members understand and adhere to the rules around Refund Credit Notes as this will really help to prevent confusion and provide reassurance to customers. Many other European countries have already taken action to help travel businesses while preserving consumer protection, while the UK Government continues to drag its feet.

It’s essential that as an industry we keep up the pressure on decision-makers in Government to provide help.  We’ve seen an overwhelming response to our ‘Save Future Travel’ campaign. Thank you to those that have supported the campaign and if you have yet to visit the website please do. Dozens of firms have pledged their support and are listed on the website, which is vital for audiences to see – we must continue to stand together.”

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