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More than 65 million overseas visits are made each year by UK residents. For the organisation which represents over 1,500 travel agents and tour operators, this is a big responsibility. This is why ABTA – the Association of British Travel Agents – places such emphasis on ensuring consistently high standards of trading practice for the benefit of its Members, the travel industry at large, and the consumers they serve.

ABTA’s main aims are to maintain the high standards of service amongst Members which its famous symbol has come to signify, and to create as favourable a business climate as possible for its Members.


In its commercial activities, ABTA maintains a high public profile, with regular appearances in the press and on radio and television to ensure high public awareness of the Association’s role. Research shows that more than 83% of the travelling British public recognise ABTA’s name (MORI 2004).

This activity is supported by a public information service which handles thousands of enquiries a year on travel-related matters, including information about ABTA Members, and by the Association’s website, which receives around 100,000 consumer searches each month.

Lobbying and Trade Relations

ABTA represents its Members and ensures that governments at both national and European level are sensitive to the needs of the travel industry. It also maintains strong links with representatives of the main travel destinations, tourist boards, and other trade associations, in order to further the interests of Members. Similarly, good relationships are promoted with other principals within the travel industry, such as hotels, airlines, and railway, car hire and shipping companies. Many of these belong to ABTA’s Travel Industry Partner scheme.


As a regulatory body, ABTA maintains a Code of Conduct which governs the relationship between tour operators and travel agents, and also between Members and their customers. Its consumer complaints service and independent arbitration and mediation schemes provide consumers with confidence and help save Members considerable sums of money.

To help reduce the risk of things going wrong, the Association monitors Members’ accounts and makes sure that Members comply with the obligation to provide financial protection where this is required by law.


Member tour operators and travel agents themselves form the policy-making and enforcement machinery of ABTA. The Board of Directors, Council of Regions, and a number of regulatory and non-regulatory committees and working groups are supported in their work by a professional secretariat of just under 70 staff.

Member Services

The ABTA secretariat also provides a wide range of services to the membership at large. These include advice services, events – including the ABTA Travel Convention – publications, research, and the negotiation of preferential terms from suppliers. A dedicated Members’ Information line handles some 25,000 enquiries each year.

There is more about ABTA in our most recent Annual Report.

Last updated 12 September 2006


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