UK Transport Minister Warns Holidaymakers to Research Travel Operators Before Booking

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British Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers has issued a warning to travellers to “do their homework” on travel firms as the Government admits complications in Atol reform mean it will not be in place for summer 2011.


In the wake of recent operator collapses, the travel industry was hoping to see reform ready for next summer

In light of the recent collapse of several UK holiday firms this summer, British Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers has issued a statement urging holidaymakers to research holiday operators before making a purchase. The statement comes at a time when Government insiders admit that the announcement of proposed reforms to the Atol protection scheme have been delayed, decreasing the likelihood that reforms will be in place before summer 2011. While most package holidays are commonly covered by Atol, many travellers who build their own holiday packages, or opt for seat-only deals, will find they are not.

“In the wake of recent operator collapses, the travel industry was hoping to see reform ready for next summer,” says Richard Bray of online travel specialists Travelmatch. “Travellers need assurance that if their operator goes bust that they will be taken care of. There were 37 million holidays by air in 2009, of which less than 50 per cent were actually covered by the Atol scheme.”

Villiers admitted that “while the vast majority of holidays pass without any problems, we have recently seen the anxiety and difficulty the failure of a travel operator can cause.” Meanwhile, sources inside the Government suggest there are many issues on reform that are yet to be resolved, reports Travel Weekly. Not least of which are impending spending cuts to the Department of Transport, and the Government’s desire to rid itself of the Air Travel Trust Fund’s large debt, which is used to support the Atol scheme. Despite this, Villiers claims that the Government is “taking the need to update the Atol scheme very seriously.”

“Unfortunately, it looks as if the politics behind Government spending cuts will have a major impact on any proposed reform, potentially stymieing the expansion of Atol,” continues Bray. “Certainly, chances of reform being in place before next October are looking slim. Consumers, whether booking all inclusive holidays or building their own packages, deserve to be treated equally.”

In lieu of reform, Villiers recommends that “anyone who wants to protect their money should look at the information on the DirectGov website and do their homework before booking their holiday."

About Travelmatch:
Travelmatch is a new travel discovery engine that helps inspire customers by matching their requirements to a wide range of holidays, hotels, flights, cruises, villas or city breaks. Unlike other travel sites, customers are not required to choose a destination, date or budget before they can begin searching. Customers are able to make informed decisions by exploring photos, user reviews, maps, events and activities and other fun things relevant to their chosen travel product. Travelmatch, which closed its first funding round in 2010, is based in Notting Hill, London.

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Richard Bray
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