About ABTA

ABTA is the UK’s leading travel association; we have been at the heart of travel for over 60 years. Our purpose is to help our Members to grow their businesses successfully and sustainably, and to help their customers – the travelling public – have confidence in their travel experience.

The ABTA brand stands for expertise, reliability and fairness, and our level of brand recognition and trust among consumers is the highest of any travel trade association.

It is estimated that over £31.5bn is spent on holiday arrangements with ABTA Members every year. We believe this is because booking with an ABTA Member gives you peace of mind because they are committed to following a strict code of conduct, which means you’ll receive a high standard of service, fair terms of trading and accurate information. In fact, our research shows that seven out of ten people see ABTA membership as essential when booking their travel arrangements. More about the benefits of booking with an ABTA Member can be found in our video.

We help our Members and their customers navigate through today’s changing travel landscape by:

  • Providing schemes of financial protection and a course of redress if something goes wrong
  • Raising standards in the industry and by giving guidance on issues from sustainability to health and safety
  • Presenting a united voice to government to ensure the industry and the public get a fair deal.

All this equates to holidaymakers remaining confident and happy in the holiday products that they buy from our Members, and helps us achieve our vision of building confidence in travel.

  • 1950s

    1950 The Association of British Travel Agents is founded by 22 leading travel companies.

    1951 The first ABTA Convention is held in Brighton.

    1955 The Association merges with the Institute of Travel Agents (ITA) to form the Association of British Travel Agents and Institute of Travel Agents Ltd. The organisation soon becomes known simply as ABTA.

    1959 The first tour operators are admitted as affiliated Members.

  • 1960s

    1960 The first Code of Conduct is formally adopted at ABTA’s AGM. ABTA’s Code of Conduct governs the relationship between Members and their customers, between Members and other Members, and between Members and ABTA.

    1965 In the wake of the failure of two non-members, Fiesta Tours and Omar Khayyam, ABTA sets up the Common Fund. The Fund will repatriate stranded holidaymakers; refund deposits, or provide alternative holidays. It was regarded as the first comprehensive nationwide consumer protection scheme ever established.

    Tour operators become full Members.

  • 1970s

    1970 The first overseas ABTA Convention is held in Rotterdam.

    1974 The value of ABTA’s scheme of financial protection is highlighted when major player Court Line fails financially – the worst crisis in the trade’s history. Other bodies hold the majority of the company’s bonds, but ABTA’s high public profile means that the industry looks to it to take the lead, and it is heavily involved in helping with the repatriation and refunding of clients.

  • 1980s

    1984 New ABTA Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association are adopted.

    1987 A new logo is introduced, replacing the traditional compass.

    1988 The ABTA Benevolent Fund is established.

  • 1990s

    1993 The ABTA Insurance Company is set up to provide shortfall insurance for tour operators. The Travel Agents’ Bond Replacement Scheme (TABRS) is set up the following year.

    1994 As part of its drive to develop its role as a trade association, ABTA sets up a dedicated Members’ Information Bureau.

    1996 The Single Payment Scheme is launched to handle electronic payments between participating agents and operators.

    The Travel Industry Partner scheme is launched at The Convention in Istanbul.

    1997 ABTA launches ABTA Magazine.

  • 2000s

    2000 The Travel Agents’ Council and Tour Operators’ Council are replaced by a single Board of Directors and a single class of membership is reintroduced.

    The first issue of our member e-newsletter goes out as ABTA Today.

    2003 ABTA becomes a founder member of The Travel Foundation.

    2007 ABTA changes its name from Association of British Travel Agents Ltd to ABTA Ltd, and introduces a new logo.

    The Board is reviewed and reduced to include a President, four elected Members, the ABTA CEO, and three appointed Directors.

    2008 ABTA and the Office of Fair Trading work together to eliminate misleading price advertising across the industry and ABTA redoubles its efforts to bring about reform of financial protection for consumers.

    ABTA and the FTO amalgamate.

    2009 After nearly 40 years in Newman Street, W1, ABTA moves to new premises near London Bridge.

    The Board President is renamed as Chairman, and directly elected by all Members.

  • 2010s

    2010 The ABTA Benevolent Fund rebrands as ABTA Lifeline.

    The Board is reviewed, and the first Non-Executive Directors are appointed.

    2011 ABTA responds to the Government’s ATOL reform proposals welcoming the move to extend financial protection, but highlighting the need for airlines to be included and for more work to ensure proposals are workable and practical for travel businesses.

    2012 The ABTA logo is one of the most trusted brands in travel, and research in the last 12 months shows positive public perception of ABTA increased while our logo maintained a very strong 78% recognition factor.

    2013 The fight to reduce Air Passenger Duty continued over the year with ABTA concentrating its efforts as a leading member of the A Fair Tax on Flying campaign.

    2014 ABTA achieves ‘Superbrand’ status for the eighth consecutive year and launches its new consumer campaign, Travel with Confidence.