New group to represent UK’s independent OTAs

A new independent travel agents’ group has been set up to represent some of the UK’s largest independent travel agents including its largest OTAs.

The Federation of Independent Travel Agents (Fita) has been been formed following a meeting with agents and ITT chairman Steven Freudmann after a number of OTAs expressed concerns with Abta’s stance on EU Package Travel Directive reform.

However, those agents have also been heavily involved with Abta’s deliberations on consumer protection reform and are now understood to be happy with Abta’s stance.

Plans for a fully fledged alternative association to Abta, possibly offering bonding, were shelved but Fita will seek to represent their views.

It was described by Freudmann as the “son of Triton”, the super-consortium originally formed in partnersip with Global Trafel Group, Advantage and worldchoice.

“Triton will evolve to become part of this organisation and lead it. Fita will represent the views of Triton,” Freudmann said.

Freudmann was named chairman of the group, while worldchoice chairman Colin Heal was appointed the vice-chairman. The group also has the backing of Global Travel Group managing director Dave Clayton.

Agents have questioned the value of Triton since it dropped its status as a joint buying group in April 2008. Some believed the group would not continue after Advantage pulled out in October 2008.

Triton members will continue to have access to the Global Travel Group-owned Triton product range and search technology.

In its first move Fita has thrown its weight behind Travolution sister title Travel Weekly’s Yes Minister campaign demanding a dedicated travel and tourism minister.

The Yes Minister 10 Downing Street petition has now attracted nearly 600 signatures. Freudmann said: “I think the Yes Minister campaign is a marvellous idea.

“It is fair to say that tourism ministers regard inbound and domestic tourism as their portfolio. We have to make sure a dedicated minister’s role includes the outbound travel industry.

“The majority of ministers feel sending people abroad is bad for the UK economy. We need to move away from that and make them realise that we have a huge and dynamic industry.”

Both Travel Republic and On The Beach have already voiced their support for the campaign.

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