ABTA cautions holidaymakers re quad bike hire

UK-based travel association, ABTA, has cautioned holidaymakers with regard to accidents on quad bikes when holidaying overseas, and the safety measures to be taken when hiring quad bikes.

A popular holiday activity, tourists are hiring more quad bikes each year, but there has also been an increase in the number of related accidents reported each year. Holidaymakers that hire the bikes as a means of travelling on main roads and ride them without helmets and adequate experience may be putting their lives at risk, according to ABTA.

While several tour operators offer travellers the opportunity of booking organised off-road bike excursions through reputable agencies, which follow strict health and safety guidelines, safety issues arise when holidaymakers hire the bikes independently from local businesses. ‘This can be extremely dangerous,’ ABTA warns as ‘quad bikes are powerful machines and proper driving experience and protection is vital.’

Nikki White, ABTA, head of destinations and sustainability said: ‘The message we are sending to holidaymakers is that quad-biking can be a fun and memorable holiday experience as part of an off-road excursion with a reputable company. However, it can be extremely risky to hire a quad bike as a means of transport to get around resorts and to use on main roads. They may look easy and fun to drive but the reality is they are powerful vehicles that demand driving expertise and proper protection.’

Appropriate and valid insurance to cover accidents is also a necessity that holidaymakers planning to hire a quad-bike should obtain, ABTA said. Standard insurance policies specifically exclude cover for quad bike usage, whether as a driver or passenger. If a holidaymaker has an accident on a quad bike and does not have adequate insurance, it could result in substantial medical bills, especially if they require the use of an air ambulance to return them to the UK.

Lynda St Cooke from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: ‘Our consular staff sees first-hand the tragic consequences of quad bike accidents – holidaymakers can end up badly injured, and sometimes face huge hospital bills before they can get home. If you think that you might end up hiring a quad bike on holiday make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for quad bike use. Check the small print – your policy could be invalidated if you don’t wear a helmet.’

ABTA offers top ten tips for holidaymakers

ABTA, a UK-based travel agent’s association, has offered its top ten travel tips to help Britons enjoy a trouble-free holiday when planning their summer vacations.

1. Check your passport in advance – Check the validity of your passport well before the travel date to avoid the extra expense of having to fast track the renewal. Also, many countries outside of Europe require six months validity after the departure date, failing which travellers may be refused entry.

2. Weigh your luggage – Weigh your bags before you leave home to ensure they meet the airline’s baggage allowance, thereby avoiding expensive supplements at the airport.

3. Tell your bank you are travelling – Banks are always on guard for fraudulent transactions, so if they do not know when or where you are overseas they may block your ATM card from overseas use.

4. Be aware of restrictions when bringing back goods on your return – Refer to the full list of what you can and cannot bring back from your holiday destination. If you are travelling outside Europe it is often illegal for you to carry back food-based goods.

5. Make your drinks last longer – Spirit measures overseas are generally more generous than in the UK, so save money and your liver by opting for a mixer rather than more alcohol.

6. Buy travel insurance – Avoid the possibility of high medical bills by taking out travel insurance. It might be of help to know that treatment for a broken leg in the US costs around GBP44,000.

7. Get vaccinated – When travelling outside Western Europe, North America or Australasia, it is advisable to consult a medical professional to receive all of the necessary jabs to protect against preventable diseases.

8. Lunch like the locals – On a holiday it always helps to adopt the habits of local people, especially when it comes to food.

9. Learn a few words in the local language – one of the most basic things to do, but it will be greatly appreciated by the locals.

10. Learn these travel tips before you go.

ABTA said that it expects 14 million Brits to holiday overseas between July and September this year. There is still availability for locations including Mallorca, Turkey and the Canary Islands.


ABTA report reveals the economic value of leisure aviation

ABTA, a UK-based association for travel agents, has published a specially commissioned report into the economic value of leisure aviation.

The study, conducted by the Centre for Economics Business Research (CEBR), was commissioned by ABTA to help understand the significance and economic worth of leisure aviation to the UK economy.

According to the report, leisure aviation contributed GBP14.1 billion of a Gross Value Added in 2010, nearly 1.1 percent of GDP, more than was contribution by the utilities, accountancy or advertising industries. The CEBR report reveals that the leisure industry accounts for 1.2 percent of total UK employment, equivalent to 289,000 full time jobs in 2010. The impact of leisure aviation on job creation goes beyond direct employment, with a further 246,000 employed by suppliers to the industry.

Leisure aviation also contributes to regional economies significantly, with leisure aviation in Wales, the North East and Northern Ireland – where economic stimulants and job opportunities are at a premium, accounting for the highest proportions of regional Gross Value Added contributions of between 1.4 and 1.5 percent. In terms of absolute impact, leisure aviation provides the largest contribution to the South East, London and North West economies.

Mark Tanzer, CEO of ABTA, commented, ‘This report makes an unarguable case for the importance of leisure aviation to the UK economy, as a wealth and job creator without which many air routes essential to the business health of the UK would simply not exist. The Government must recognise the key role leisure aviation plays in supporting the economy throughout the UK and ensure that support for the sector is built in to any future aviation strategy.’

The report also noted the sizeable contribution of leisure aviation to the UK’s business connectivity with the rest of world. The study found that on 428 of the 446 routes analysed from 2012, over half the passengers were travelling for leisure purposes, with half of the routes showing a leisure passenger share exceeding 90 percent. This appears to confirm that many routes essential to the business health of the UK would not be viable without the contribution of leisure travellers.

In addition, leisure passengers also help in supporting the viability of routes for business travellers to high growth economies, such as Brazil, India and the UAE. Leisure traveller numbers to countries with high growth economies grew by over 96.6 percent between 2002 and 2012. This translates to an increase of 4.2 million leisure passengers, alongside an increase in business passengers of 660,000.

Tanzer presented the findings of the report to the Airports Commission on July 9 in a hearing on demand and connectivity. He also presented ABTA’s views on what the Government needs to consider for developing a long-term aviation strategy for the UK.

UK-based ABTA member ceases trading

A UK-based travel company that is a member of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has ceased trading.

French Freedom Holidays has gone into administration with over 400 holiday bookings outstanding. The company specialised in coach and camping holidays to France, and had previously held an Air Transport Operator’s Licence (ATOL). Holidays were sold to British and Irish travellers under the names Camping France 4 Less, Holiday France 4 Less, Ski Drive 4 Less, Ski France 4 Less, Welcome France and Welcome Holidays.

The company’s demise, which was precipitated on the 5th of this month, came approximately two months after it had been fined £2,500 by ABTA’s code of conduct committee for breaching the organisation’s rules regarding misleading advertising. According to an ABTA spokesman, the firm was specifically fined for advertising a campsite that it did not have a contract with, so it would therefore have been unable to honour bookings that it took for the site. Following this, French Freedom Holidays informed ABTA that it had taken a number of bookings that it could not honour.

Begbies Traynor, French Freedom’s administrator, has revealed that none of the company’s clients are currently overseas, but there are 422 advance bookings, with around 350 from clients in the UK and the remainder from the Republic of Ireland. However, as the firm was fully bonded, both in the UK and the Irish Republic, ABTA is currently dealing with 340 of those bookings, 25 of which involved clients that were entitled to a refund due to circumstances prior to the company being wound up.

ABTA makes its stand on airport development

The UK’s Association of British Travel Agents, ABTA, has submitted its opinions to the Airports Commission on how Britain’s airport infrastructure should be improved.

The UK’s well documented airport capacity problems have lead the Airport Commission to seek the views of interested parties on effective options that are also practical, in order to ease the situation.

Amidst fears that the British economy is suffering as a result of its restricted capacity for air traffic expansion, ABTA’s opinion is that the airport infrastructure in the South-East of England should be prioritised for urgent development. The organisation also suggests that attention is given to the mix of aviation models, as it believes that business and leisure travel should be viewed as interdependent and should be developed as such.

Key to ABTA’s submission is that the travel infrastructure around airports should be addressed to provide realistic, speedy access from major conurbations. ABTA supported this view with the results of its 2012 annual consumer survey, with 78 percent of respondents wanting a journey time to the airport of two hours or less. A preference for flying from a local airport also found favour with a large majority of 62 percent, and connecting flights were unpopular with a third of those canvassed. 90 percent of those questioned for the survey considered themselves air travellers.

ABTA chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said, ‘It’s essential that when the Government looks at airport capacity particularly in the South East, it recognises the interdependence of business and leisure travel and does not prioritise one over the other. It also needs a coherent policy on improving surface access to the airports. Passengers want short journeys to the airport and many are not willing to take connecting flights.

The Government needs to invest in efficient, fast public transport connections which will also help restrict the impact of flying on the environment and local residents. The extension of HS2 to run via Heathrow would be a firm declaration of intent and would undoubtedly prove a great success with passengers both from the UK and overseas.’

ABTA chairman hits out at negative TV travel coverage

The chairman of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has hit out at recent UK television programs that focus on negative aspects of the travel industry.

John McEwan, the chairman of the travel operators’ organisation, has said that he will initiate an investigation into how the travel industry can influence, what he described as, more accurate and informative holiday-based television programs.

The chairman’s comments came in the wake of television’s latest holiday angst program, Holiday Hit Squad, a series that is being screened weekly by the BBC. The program covers a range of undesirable holiday features, from hotels that are cockroach infested, grubby or downright dangerous, to the difficulties faced by individual tourists who lose their travel documentation or have it stolen, and plenty of other scenarios that can ruin even the best planned vacation.

One of the program’s co-hosts is former newsreader Angela Rippon, who portrays the antithesis of Judith Chalmers’ far more effusive and enthusiastic attitude towards all things vacation when she presented ITV’s long running holiday offering, Wish You Were Here…?. That program, which ran from 1974 until 2003, along with the BBC’s equally positive series, Holiday, were both cited by McEwan as having had content that was more representative of the ‘fantastic experience’ that the vast majority of holidaymakers enjoy, than the current crop of cautionary tales. He described these past broadcasts as ‘compelling viewing’ that provided useful tips from travel experts.

He said, ‘The beauty of Wish You Were Here..? was you had a reporter looking from the inside out; it was a bit like having your own informed travel agent giving you advice. The question is whether as an industry we can be more proactive in making our own programmes or lobby to bring back the likes of Judith Chalmers. We need to do more than reality shows on Benidorm.’

ABTA protests Balearics car hire tax

The Association of British Travel Agents, ABTA, has asked authorities in the Balearic Islands to reconsider the imposition of a tax on rental cars that is due to be implemented from April this year.

The Spanish-owned Balearic Islands, the largest and most visited of which are Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera, are intending to impose the tax as an ecological measure, but ABTA is concerned that the added cost to a week’s car rental will be bad for tourism to the archipelago.

The tax is set to vary between €3 and €7.5 per day, to be levied depending on the CO2 emissions of the individual car that is rented. This would make the cumulative weekly rental cost as much as €52.5, or £46 more expensive than it is currently. The amount will be payable when the car is collected from the rental company, even if the rental was prepaid in the renters home country.

The tax is intended to raise €15m per year for the Balearics’ government, but ABTA has asked them to delay its introduction and to reconsider.

Abta head of destinations and sustainability, Nikki White, said, ‘Hasty decisions that don’t give travel businesses time to prepare and take tourists by surprise can have a very damaging impact. Taxing tourists does more harm than good in the long term.’

ABTA has an ally in Jose Manuel Soria, Spain’s tourism minister, who, commenting on the proposed tax at last November’s World Travel Market in London, described it as, ‘Unfair.’

It remains to be seen if the new tax will be imposed on its scheduled date of April 1 this year.

ABTA gains UK parliamentary support

ABTA, the UK travel trade association for tour operators and travel agents, has revealed the results of research indicating that its stance on tourism has strong support in the UK parliament.

According to the results of the survey, 75 percent of MP’s are of the opinion that in order to help create new jobs, the government should do more to develop domestic inbound and outbound tourism. The survey also revealed that 70 percent of MP’s are of the opinion that all tourism sectors, domestic, inbound and outbound, should be given equal importance, a result that showed a 2 percent increase on a similar poll that was carried out with MP’s a year ago.

ABTA will launch its new Tourism Mix Manifesto at the House of Commons on February 27, with the intention of highlighting the potential that the tourism industry has for the creation of jobs and growth across the UK economy. The document, which will carry an introduction from tourism minister, Hugh Robertson, is intended to provide positive proposals that ABTA is certain would provide growth across all tourism sectors.

The head of public affairs at ABTA, Luke Pollard, said, ‘The tourism industry has an incredible potential to employ more people and contribute more to the UK’s economic recovery if the right policies are put in place by ministers. Whether inbound, domestic or outbound, ABTA is keen to see travel and tourism businesses grow and prosper. It is promising to see so many MPs agreeing with ABTA about the need for Government to do more to support all sectors of our industry.’

ABTA Urges Government to Develop Airport Strategy

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a UK-based travel agents association, is urging the British government to consider developing a sustainable strategy for airports.

The association is stressing that the government should not prioritise business traffic over leisure travel at the busiest airports in the country.

ABTA expects that undue emphasis on business travel is likely to hamper outbound travel from the UK, and outbound travel accounts for 1.6 percent of the UK’s DP, or around GBP22 billion.

The association is emphasising that it is important that air passengers travelling from the UK are be able to fly from airports of their choice.

The 2012 ABTA Consumer Survey has revealed that 62 percent of passengers are in favour of flying from their local airport, and around 50 percent of the respondents are not in favour of spending more than an hour travelling to their departure airport.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s chief executive officer, said, ‘The airport capacity debate has been going on for too long whilst our European neighbours have been continuing to invest in their infrastructure.

We urgently need swift and decisive action from the Government to put an end to the debate and move forward with plans to create the capacity we so desperately need. It is vital these plans take into account the needs of all types of aviation, whether it is cargo, business or leisure. We must at all costs avoid a situation where there is a hierarchy of importance for aviation.’

According to ABTA, recommendations that the government should take heed of include a comprehensive strategy for aviation, cross party support for aviation policy, and to maintain a balance between the economic benefits of meeting demand and the requirements of the industry, with the impact that aviation has on local communities and the environment.

British Forego Lifestyle for Holidays

Travel loving UK citizens are willing to cut their lifestyle costs so that they can afford to continue taking holidays, according to a recent survey.

The research carried out by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a UK-based travel agents association, has reported that in 2012 UK travellers have taken an average of 3.51 holidays in the UK or overseas, a decrease from 3.82 reported in 2011. One in five travellers researched has reported that an overseas holiday is a necessity they cannot do without, while one in ten travellers felt the same about a holiday in the UK.

Around 24 percent of travellers in the age group of 65 years and above have reported that a long holiday in an overseas destination is essential for them.

Mark Tanzer, the chief executive of ABTA, said, ‘It is clear that in the current economic climate, holidaymakers are being cautious about how they spend their holiday budget and the number of holidays that they take in a year. In spite of this, it appears many Brits are determined not to give up their annual holiday.

Many people consider their annual holiday a necessity, not a luxury and given the choice they would rather make sacrifices in other parts of their lives than pass up on their holidays.’

So what makes British travellers prioritise their overseas holidays, even at the cost of curtailing their lifestyle?

Apparently, it is the weather. The dark and wet weather in the UK is one of the main reasons that Brits head for sunnier destinations abroad. The research showed that around one in four respondents have cited the weather as being the main reason they take an overseas holiday every year.