Ex-Abta chair Noel Josephides has branded industry criticism of the association “extremely unfair” as he came to its defence during a TTG Face To Face interview last week.
Josephides, who in the past has been publicly critical of the association of which he served at the helm from 2013 to 2019, argued those who had not dealt with Westminster policymakers “would not understand the amount of work Abta has put in to get the message across” on certain issues, such as refunds.
"I’d rate the performances of individual ministers [during this crisis] very low. They are very good at opening their mouths without much forethought and very little charm,” he said.
“It’s an inexperienced government, you can see it very plainly and the biggest problem we have had is – right at the beginning as soon as this crisis struck – there were all sorts of voucher schemes out there and Abta came on the scene with the Refund Credit Note [RCNs], which regularised what all of us were doing. But trying to get that common sense approach to government has really been impossible."
“We are faced with inexperienced civil servants who do not understand the industry,” he added, slamming government for “trashing the reputation of the industry” through its inaction over RCNs.
"It’s not that I was a past chair of Abta that I’m supporting them – at one time I was very much a critic of Abta - I know because I’m close to it exactly what has gone on and it’s like banging your head against a brick wall. I think we have been very lucky to have had an organisation that has fought for us."
His comments followed those of Holidaysplease boss Richard Dixon, who revealed during last week’s TTG Agent Matters he had removed Abta branding from marketing material, adding his belief Abta had a “slightly tarnished image right now”.
Josephides argued claims Abta was unrepresentative [of agents] were “very simplistic” and “an easy comment to make [by] those who want to make an impression, rather than those who understand how difficult it is to make progress”.
"Our industry has done a very good job so far in the face of a very poor performance from government. We shouldn’t be too harsh. The people involved [from Abta] who are doing all this negotiating are working extremely hard and we shouldn’t forget that."
See TTG’s 8 June issue for the full interview with Josephides, as he assesses what the summer season could look like for operators.