Earlier this week, I took part in a panel session hosted by Travel Weekly and Deloitte, looking at travel trends for the last year and what might lie ahead for the industry in the coming 12 months. Many of the findings of Travel Weekly’s Insight report, which was unveiled at the event, echo the findings of ABTA’s own Holiday Habits research that we issued in October: namely that the past year has been a generally positive one for the industry in terms of sales and bookings, despite some very testing conditions. As we enter the traditionally ‘peak season’ for holiday bookings, it is clear that 2018 will bring more challenges for travel businesses: a number of significant regulatory changes and of course the very serious business of Brexit negotiations, and what these may mean for travel. We know that for you, our Members, it is an absolute priority to get certainty around these changes as soon as possible, to help prepare your businesses for change while also helping to ensure that your customers have the confidence to continue to book their holidays.
Through ABTA’s Guidance Notes, Regional Meetings, Workshops and programme of Events we have been providing the most up-to-date information that we can on all of these issues, and we are committed to continuing these efforts in 2018. We will also continue to lobby the Government on the issues that matter to you, and that means not only securing a favourable Brexit deal but also keeping their focus on more pressing regulatory changes that are impacting businesses and consumers.
Last week, we had a very strong response from Members to ABTA’s call to build a case to take to Government about the damaging impact that credit and debit card fees will have on businesses, particularly travel agents, after the ban on surcharging comes into effect on 13 January. Members can still respond to this survey up until 8 December. The Treasury has promised to consult with businesses on card payments in the months ahead and we will be keeping up the pressure to ensure that this happens. While this work continues, our advice to Members remains to shop around to ensure the best deals on merchant service and to read ABTA’s guidance on debit and credit card payments.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive