The Surrey agency has quit Abta after 28 years following the ending of the Abta-Atol Joint Administration scheme, which was designed to help agents that were brought in to the scope of Atol for the first time by the 2012 regulations. Abta described it as having “served its purpose very well”.
The affected agencies are changing their arrangements as their Atol licences expire at the end of September 2017 or March 2018 and Haslemere Travel was the first to declare its intentions to move away from the conventional scheme.
The CAA is currently transitioning around 180 Abta members into the mainstream Atol scheme.
Haslemere Travel’s owner, Gemma Antrobus, said the previous system allowed the agency “to keep everything under one roof”, but that this was no longer the case due to changes to the Atol landscape.
Antrobus explained that moving outside the traditional consumer protection system had advantages: “It gives us more flexibility for the future; it’s not about saving money or me saying Abta is terrible,” she said.
An Abta spokesperson said: “They [Haslemere Travel] will lose the use of the Abta logo and all of Abta’s other services and consumer assurance.”
Gary Lewis, The Travel Network Group chief executive, said: “We are truly delighted that Gemma Antrobus and the team at Haslemere Travel are coming over to join us as a member of The Travel Trust Association. Gemma runs an impressive business and as the chair of Aito Specialist Travel Agents, she is very much admired and respected in the UK travel industry.”
Antrobus added that the switch had been a lengthy process that had needed full-time commitment. “It’s not a small thing to do,” she added.