These include the Payment Services Directive 2, which will be introduced on January 13, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will come into effect in May, and the new Package Travel Directive, which becomes law in July.
Julie Jones, Abta senior services manager, said: “GDPR isn’t an evolution; it’s a revolution.”
Julia Lo Bue-Said, managing director, The Advantage Travel Partnership, warned agents to be ready for “major changes”, adding: “We are an industry full of innovation, but the more red tape, the more barriers there are – these are major changes for agents.”
She added: “You have to really want to do it [be in the travel industry] – you don’t enter the industry lightly.”
Lo Bue-Said said regulations such as the Atol scheme were already so complex that not even the government seemed to fully understand its implications.
Referring to financial protection in the wake of Monarch’s failure, she said: “Does the government really understand [it], let alone customers? The Monarch collapse showed you the complexities of how you can book now. We are a very complex industry and if government can’t get it right, where does that leave us?”
However, Byrne was quick to stress that the customer should always come first. “At Travel Counsellors, all [customers’] money is financially protected. If we believe that the customer comes first, then we’ve got a responsibility as leaders to back that up.
“Don’t blame the government and CAA,” he added. “We should put our money where our mouth is.”