ABTA – The Travel Association

ABTA is a UK travel trade association for tour operators and travel agents.

ABTA – The Travel Association
MottoThe Travel Association
Legal statusNon-profit company
PurposeTravel agents and tour operators in the United Kingdom, UK-arranged foreign holidays, and consumer protection for package holidays
Region served
Around 1,200 companies with c. 5,000 travel agent branches and c. 900 tour operators
Chief Executive
Mark Tanzer
Main organ
ABTA Board of Directors (Chairman - Noel Josephides) and ABTA Council of Regions


Previously known as Association of British Travel Agents, its name was changed on 1 July 2007 to ABTA, The Travel Association to reflect its wider representation of the travel industry.

On 1 July 2008 it merged with the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO).

It was founded in 1950 by 22 leading travel companies.


ABTA has been around for over 65 years and is the UK’s largest travel association, representing travel agents and tour operators that sell around £32 billion of holidays and other travel arrangements each year.

The main functions of ABTA are:

  • Raising standards in the industry and by giving guidance on issues from sustainability to health and safety,
  • Providing schemes of financial protection,
  • Offering holidaymakers a course of redress if something goes wrong,
  • Presenting a united voice to government to ensure the industry and the public get a fair deal.

Code of Conduct

ABTA maintains a Code of Conduct which governs the relationship between Members and their customers, between Members and ABTA, and between Members and other Members.

The Code is essentially a guide to good practice, although some of what it contains is also required under UK and European law. Those booking travel arrangements with an ABTA Member can expect to receive:

  • Accurate information so you can make an informed choice
  • Advice or assistance on passport, visa and health requirements
  • An offer of a suitable alternative if there are building works that will seriously impair your holiday
  • A refund of your holiday cost if there’s a significant flight delay and you don’t want to travel
  • A response to any complaint you might have within 28 days
  • Resolution of your complaint as quickly as possible and, if it can’t be resolved amicably, the guaranteed option of arbitration to find a settlement.

All ABTA Members have to abide by the Code and those that breach it can face sanctions at ABTA's Code of Conduct Committee.

Consumer protection


The ATOL scheme of financial protection (see below) covers flight-based holidays. If you buy a land- or sea-based holiday such as coach, rail or cruise holiday from an ABTA Member your monies will be protected by the ABTA scheme of financial protection. This means that if your travel company fails and your holiday can no longer go ahead you will be entitled to a refund if you are yet to travel and hotel costs and transport home if you are abroad.

In addition to financial protection, ABTA Members are also bound to comply with the ABTA Code of Conduct, which ensures high service standards and fair terms of trading. Booking with an ABTA Member also gives you recourse should you have a problem or complaint with your travel company.


ATOL stands for Air Travel Organisers’ Licence. It is a government-run financial protection scheme operated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). All monies you pay for package holidays involving flights and holidays including a flight plus accommodation and/or car hire, must be protected under an ATOL licence. You will receive an ATOL Certificate at the time you make your payment, and you will need to keep the certificate safe.

ATOL cover means that if your travel company fails and your holiday can no longer go ahead you will be entitled to a refund if you are yet to travel and hotel costs and flights home if you are abroad. Flights booked directly with an airline are not protected under the ATOL scheme.

ATOL is a financial protection scheme, it does not provide other assistance if there are other problems with your holiday.

When your money will be automatically protected:

Packages. Packages offer the best form of protection. Not only are you entitled to a refund or repatriation should your travel company go out of business, but you also benefit from additional legal protection should there be a problem with your holiday.

Flight-Plus. This is where you book a flight, and accommodation and/or car hire to be used with it, from one company but they haven’t packaged it together. These arrangements are financially protected, however, you do not get the same legal protection as a package should there be a problem with your holiday.

Charter flights.


ABTA currently has around 1,200 Members and represents over 5,000 retail outlets and offices. It is estimated that over £32bn is spent on holiday arrangements with ABTA Members every year, 90% of package holidays in the UK are sold through its members.

It has eleven regional divisions. The head office is situated near Vinopolis and Southwark Cathedral.

See also

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