Brexit, Thomas Cook, sustainability, and a new dawn for package holidays; Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer sits down with TTG’s James Chapple to look ahead to 2020.
The dust has barely started settling after Boris Johnson’s remarkable election victory when I clasp Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer’s hand by way of greeting.
It’s less than 24 hours since the polls closed but already, Johnson has sought permission to form a new government and stamp his authority on this country’s future – and that means Brexit.
It’s hard to gauge Tanzer’s true feelings on the matter; Brexit is the enigma of our times. “It’s certainly a leap of faith,” offers Tanzer, diplomatically.
We’re in a small office near Abta HQ in London, which Tanzer says has become a part-time call centre since the collapse of Super Break and Thomas Cook. It makes me wonder where to start summing up 2019.
But with the election front of mind and the now very real prospect of a 31 January Brexit, we start with the new political landscape in which we meet.
“What we’ve been against is an abrupt no-deal departure,” Tanzer explains. “The election pretty much eliminates that, at least short-term. We’ve spent a lot of time preparing members and ensuring customers feel confident.
“But it certainly looks like there’s a strong enough majority to exit on 31 January. There would be a transition, which is good for customer confidence and members going into 2020.
"There’s still a lot of work to be done in a year. And there’s a possibility that if that isn’t completed and the PM sticks to his commitment to leave come what may, we could end up with another no-deal scenario.”
So far, the EU has agreed to extend the process, but Tanzer warns this shouldn’t be taken for granted. “Once we get into trade negotiations, every concession counts,” he says. “I hope the EU sees sense, but it’s not certain.”