ABTA’s first election for chairman produced a closer result than might have been expected and a bigger turnout than usual in ABTA votes. So it would be fair to consider it a triumph for ABTA democracy.
Four out of ten ABTA members voted compared with an average turnout in board elections of 30%-35% and just 15% in the poll two years ago on measures to slim down ABTA’s board and cut agents’ representation.
There is no question the election offered a real choice. Britaly Travel director Daniele Broccoli stood for independent agents, some of whom feel marginalised within ABTA. A vote of 46% justified his standing. Advantage managing director John McEwan stood for a broader constituency within ABTA and has every reason to be pleased with his victory.
Both stood with backing from a board that, according to some accounts, has become fractious. The question now is whether the result will resolve the tensions.
It should. ABTA has no reason to fear debate so long as it does not hinder decision making and there is unity of purpose once decisions are made.
McEwan comes as head of an independent agency consortium, but as a former TUI UK retail director with 15 years experience at Thomas Cook. His background suggests he should be able to see things from both sides.