ABTA and its members agreed that both trade and consumer financial protection needed to be standardised across the industry at today’s ABTA’s Travel Matters conference. The debate follows a series of events that has seen an increased awareness surrounding compensation and insurance, including the financial collapse of airlines and the volcanic ash disruption. “We must reform the outdated system of financial protection in the industry,” said ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer. “Consumer protection needs to increase across the board,” agreed ABTA Head of Public Affairs Luke Pollard. “We need to avoid additional responsibility for protection for tour operators and airlines, especially independents. This is not only during volcanic ash, but when a company collapses financially.” “We are not the last resort insurer,” added TUI Travel Managing Director UK and Ireland Dermot Blastland. Blastland continued to say it was important to let customers know how much they were insured. “The majority of customers who think they are protected is miles higher than the those that actually are,” he commented. As well as distributing costs accordingly, Mark Tanzer also highlighted the welcomed news that the government is to reform Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax on airlines to a ‘per plane duty’ (PPD). “We want fair taxes that dont suppress demand or discourage investment,” he stated. “The success of tourism has changed the holiday from a luxury to an expectation. To be able to deliver these benefits we need successful businesses [which are not unfairly taxed].” Blastland added that “any taxation should go over a longer time frame” to give airlines time to invest in environmentally-friendly aircraft and initiatives before facing heavy taxes. Additionally, members of ABTA were optimistic about the Minister of Tourism John Penrose but said the government needed to change its perception of travel and tourism to help with the financial difficulties both in the industry and national defecit. “It’s been too easy for the government to dismiss the concerns of outbound tourism because it defines tourism as domestic and inbound,” explained ABTA Head of Public Affiairs Luke Pollard. “The industry has a lot going for it as it creates jobs, it is a mixture of large, medium and small businesses and touches the lives of millions of voters,” added ABTA Board Director Christine Farnish.