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Who we are
Who we are
ABTA is the UK’s largest travel association, representing travel agents and tour operators that sell £37 billion of holidays and other travel arrangements each year.
We've been a trusted travel brand for more than 65 years, offering advice and guidance to you, the travelling public, as well as leading the travel industry in supporting high service standards, working with our Members on health and safety, and promoting responsible tourism at home and abroad.
The ABTA Offer
Our Offer of support, protection and expertise, means you can have confidence in ABTA; and a strong trust in our Members. These qualities are core to us as they ensure that you remain confident in the holidays and travel experiences that you buy from our Members.
We are able to make this commitment by having our Members abide by the ABTA Code of Conduct, which governs areas such as accurate advertising, fair terms of trading, changes to bookings and managing customer complaints.
How we support you
Our Members manage fantastic experiences for millions of holidaymakers, but sometimes things don’t go to plan. If you have an issue that you haven’t been able to resolve with one of our Members, we’re here to help resolve it for you. If needed, you’ll get access to our fast, cost-effective and independent complaints resolution service which could save you time, money and hassle.
Booking with our Members means you’ll be able to use a range of our advice services. See our Help section where you will find a selection of guidance and information.
How we protect you
Once you’ve planned your holiday you can relax knowing know that our Code of Conduct means that you can expect high standards from our Members. You’ll also be reassured to know that all package and ‘Flight-Plus’ holidays that have been sold to you in the UK by ABTA Members are protected financially in the event of a company failure. This means that in the unlikely event your travel company goes out of business, we have a quick, clear and simple process for you to follow, so you’ll be able to continue your holiday as planned or get your money back.
Well-known financial protection schemes include ABTA’s own scheme as well as ATOL which covers all flight-based packages. Many ABTA Members also offer additional financial protection for services such as hotels or flights, which may not automatically be protected under a scheme.
If you book your holiday from outside the UK, this protection won't apply but other schemes may apply.
We provide expert help and advice for holidaymakers. We work with the Foreign Office and with destinations all over the world so we know what is happening and when. It means we can provide around-the-clock expert advice in a crisis.
We are also here to help you understand your rights; for example, if your flight is cancelled or delayed, or if government travel restrictions are announced which affect your holiday plans.
Check out our video about why you should book with our Members and remember, to travel with confidence, always look for the logo.
A history of ABTA - 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2015 ABTA launches its new responsive website - abta.com