Wildlife enthusiasts are not people you would usually suspect of flouting the law, but last year a bird fair rightly got some industry figures in a bit of a flap.
Organisers of the well-attended 2018 British Birdwatching Fair, aka Birdfair, in Rutland were accused by Aito of potentially enabling the sale of holidays that may not have had financial protection required by new regulations.
One year later, as TTG went to press ahead of this year’s “birder’s Glastonbury” at the weekend, Aito director Noel Josephides was hopeful organisers had taken the issue “more seriously”.
Tim Appleton, founder and manager of Birdfair, suggests so, telling TTG they had spent £25,000 “on making sure everything is legally correct”, while also grudgingly noting this same money could have been spent on conservation. But his frustration should perhaps be reserved instead for the fact organisers were so unaware of the necessary regulations in the first place.
Because, let’s face it, understanding what is and isn’t protected in travel is not exactly easy.
This was made clear following Super Break’s collapse earlier this month, when agents were left open-mouthed as it emerged the operator’s accommodation-only bookings they had been selling were not actually protected by the Abta badge Super Break advertised.
If agents – or fair organisers – don’t know what is and isn’t protected, how on earth can clients be expected to know?
As Travel Counsellors’ Kirsten Hughes points out this week, “we should not be hiding essential information in the small print”. The time for educating ourselves is now, says Hughes. But we must also start educating consumers too. There have been too many instances where customers are left bewildered at the lack of protection in a failure – Monarch with its Atol confusion, anyone?
It’s time to stop winging it.