Aito has hit out at the government following the announcement of UK travel bans by more than 40 countries.
The organisation said the outcome (in response to the government’s announcement of a more infectious strain of Covid-19 spreading across the UK) was just one of a string of failures by government around the travel industry, saying members are facing "annihilation".
Bharat Gadhoke, head of commercial at Aito, said in a statement sent to TTG: “The very little business that was left for high-end Christmas and New Year travel has now been eroded beyond redemption.
“Tour operators and travel agents have tried to be creative to serve their customers.
"They set up last-minute ’travel now’ suggestions, for places where travel corridors were open. These are now shut.
“The travel industry has been hanging on by its fingernails without support.
"Now government is stamping on our hands.
"Should we simply throw in the towel? Is that what our government wants us to do?
"Is that why they have offered us no sector-specific help whatsoever?
"Who will pick up the eventual bill for the hundreds of thousands of people who will join the dole queue, when they have normally perfectly viable specialist businesses that are hugely appreciated by their customers?"
Gadhoke said the CAA was being "particularly unhelpful" and "refusing to extend refund credit notes, backed by Atol protection, beyond 31 December".
“Can the CAA have forgotten that RCNs come out of the Air Travel Trust fund, exactly the same as the Atol certificates that back all travel booked with fully bonded companies such as Aito members?
“That, if it refuses to back those RCNs, it will push tour operators into liquidation and that their many millions of pounds’ worth of business deferred from 2020 holidays into 2021 will need to be refunded by the ATTF?
“Whichever way it goes, the government will pick up the huge and totally unnecessary bill.
“Words simply fail us.”
TTG has approached the CAA for comment.