Abta chief Mark Tanzer says pressure is mounting on government to respond to the ongoing refund crisis in travel.
Tanzer said the association’s pleas for government guidance and support on its proposed refund credit note regime have been echoed by consumer groups – most notably by consumer watchdog Which?, which on Wednesday (22 April) set out a new 10-point plan to "maintain travel in trust".
In it, Which? notes the "immense pressure" on the travel industry resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. "It is vital the government considers all options to support and help the industry navigate this challenging period," said Which?.
It comes after Tanzer wrote an open letter to consumers, published in the Telegraph on Tuesday (21 April), to provide context around the refunds situation, while seeking their support.
Tanzer said it also highlighted the work being done for customers "in the most challenging circumstances", with many businesses still waiting for pipeline money back from airlines and hotels.
"This growing clarion call adds to the pressure for them [government] to respond to clarify the situation for all concerned, particularly around financial protection arrangements," said Tanzer in a blog post on Thursday (23 April).
Addressing members directly, Tanzer said: "The situation is very challenging, but we must also do all we can to preserve customer confidence.
"It is vitally important that if you do offer your customers a refund credit note because you are unable to process an immediate cash refund for a cancelled package holiday within 14 days, you follow Abta’s guidance for these refund credit notes.
"Customers whose package holidays have been cancelled because of the pandemic have a right to a refund, and where cash refunds are requested they should be given as soon as possible."
Tanzer added Abta was continuing to engage with MPs from across the political spectrum as part of its ongoing Save Future Travel campaign.
"We know many MPs are supportive of our asks, and have contacted ministerial or shadow ministerial colleagues," he said. "We now need that support to translate into government action."
Abta’s head of public affairs Luke Petherbridge told TTG earlier this week he was hopeful of government action on the issue of refunds this week when MPs return to parliament, and that its proposed refund credit notes regime could be formalised "within weeks".
However, despite suggestions at the weekend the government was looking at financial support for the travel sector, or at least granting refund credit notes the same legal and financial protection as the original booking, the government has – so far this week – remained silent on the issue.