ABTA has started to implement an ambitious new plan, which outlines the association's and its members’ role in building a successful and sustainable future for the travel industry.The mission is to build confidence at the heart of travel – confidence for customers to book; confidence for companies to trade and invest; confidence that the industry is building a sustainable future, and the plan is represented as sections of a circle which comes together as a picture of a sustainable industry where successful businesses offer quality products to confident customers. Thriving destinations continue to attract investment and reap the social and economic rewards of tourism, while their long term sustainability is achieved through responsible use of resources in a finite world. The industry will continue to provide rewarding jobs in the UK and overseas, and the full recognition of its economic contribution will result in a fair and proportionate tax take.
The association's chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “Our plan is a long term vision for the industry. ABTA is at the heart of the travel industry, standing for confidence, expertise and fairness. We can unite the travel industry and make sure the benefits of travel are maximised. The issues highlighted in the plan are live, real and ones we must tackle effectively. We will always be committed to the success and sustainability of our members, and this commitment will also benefit the wider travel industry.”
To help achieve the plan, the association has begun an overhaul to its management processes and is putting together a new IT and online strategy. Meanwhile, the association is calling on members, travel representatives, holidaymakers and business travellers to write to their MPs to express concern that the Government will drastically increase taxes on long-haul flights later this year. Following pressure from ABTA, the new Government has outlined plans to reform Air Passenger Duty [APD] and to replace it with a per-plane duty [PPD]. The association has cautiously welcomed this announcement, but has warned against aggressive and punitive rates of tax which will price average travellers out of foreign holidays, endanger jobs and damage the UK’s position as a global aviation hub. The association says that steep rises will also affect the cost of flying to destinations such as the Caribbean and South Africa, potentially putting visiting friends and family out of reach and disproportionately affecting some of the poorest countries in the world, whose economies are heavily reliant on tourism. Currently, each Economy Class traveller to the Caribbean pays the UK Government £50. From November 1, this is due to rise to £75, representing an increase of more than 185% in APD since it was first implemented. This means a family of four going over to visit friends and relatives will pay £300 in tax alone. For those who pay for extra legroom in Premium Economy, these rates double.
Tanzer said: “A rise in aviation tax levels will put pressure on jobs and damage local economies reliant on tourist expenditure both here and abroad at a time when as an industry, we are already suffering. A fairer banding system which is more closely aligned with distance travelled will be absolutely necessary to ensure that there is no further financial burden on those who can least afford it. We’ll be pressing for PPD to be fully consulted upon so that the poorest nations and travellers are not hit the hardest.”
ABTA's Travel Convention will take place at the Hilton Malta Conference Centre in St Julian’s on Malta from October 18-20.