Who knew Father Christmas had a blond mop and an Etonian twang?
Last week, Boris Johnson turned Santa, with gifts in his Queen’s speech which look set to benefit the travel trade, including a tax break for small businesses from which around half a million high street firms could profit.
For travel consortium bosses, it was a welcome present that could encourage members onto the high street and help those already in retail to “compete more effectively with online players”. Agents too seemed similarly chuffed (p6).
And there were other surprises. Most shockingly, the apparent plan to extend the CAA’s remit to repatriate both Atol-protected and non-Atol-protected passengers when an airline goes bust. It’s a move that raises significant questions.
Details, as ever though with Johnson, are scant, including on how repatriation will be funded.
The Air Travel Trust Fund was depleted by the collapse of Thomas Cook and it’s unlikely to be topped up any time soon, because if customers are brought home regardless, what’s the point of package holiday clients paying £2.50 extra to protect their trip? (p7).
It’s “heartening” the government is listening, Aito’s Derek Moore said. And in the interests of festive cheer, perhaps this long-overdue reform of Atol should be cautiously welcomed – especially if it leads to a fairer system where all customers pay into a protection scheme.
Airlines will resist any such changes, but Johnson has shown if anything that he’s determined. Could Atol reform that levels the playing field be the Christmas miracle the trade has been waiting for?
TTG will be taking a short break over Christmas – we’ll be back with the weekly magazine on 6 January, but stay tuned to ttgmedia.com for all the latest news over the festive period.