Roger is urging Birmingham Hall Green residents to pack peace of mind when purchasing their holidays this year, by making sure they book an ATOL-protected trip.
The ATOL scheme is there to protect people against the risk of their travel company going bust: ensuring they can continue their holiday and return home safely if the company collapses whilst they are away; or providing refunds if they’re yet to travel. And with over two million ATOL-protected air holidays expected to be sold in the UK during January - the scheme will give holidaymakers in Birmingham Hall Green and across the country peace of mind that their hard earned holiday will not be lost.
During 2012, Parliament agreed two key changes to the scheme to widen protection and help people understand when they are protected. Holidays known by the industry as ‘Flight-Plus’ are now included in the scheme, as well as traditional package holidays. A ‘Flight-Plus’ booking is one that includes a flight plus accommodation and/or car hire, so long as these separate parts of the holiday are booked with the same company and within a day of each other.
The second change agreed by Parliament in 2012 saw the introduction of the ATOL certificate; offering consumers greater clarity on how their holiday is protected. Anyone who books an ATOL-protected trip will now receive an ATOL certificate from their travel company as soon as they make any payment. The certificate tells them what is protected, who is protecting it and what to do if something goes wrong.
The importance of booking with a travel agent who is covered by the ATOL scheme is particularly important for pilgrims travelling to the Hajj and Umbra celebrations in Saudi Arabia since there have been a number of cases where rouge travel agents not covered by the scheme have reneged on promises and left travellers high and dry and very much out of pocket.
Roger Godsiff said: “I would urge all Hajj & Umrah travellers in particular to book only with companies which are ATOL protected. It was only last year that Saleem Akhtar was prosecuted after trading standards officers received complaints from a couple who booked a Hajj trip to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The court heard a trading standards probe into Akhtar’s Alum Rock-based travel firm, Embassy Express Ltd, revealed he was flouting consumer protection rules by pretending he was covered by Air Travel Organisers Licensing, which protects travellers on package holidays.
He was found guilty of two counts of fraud, two of breaching package tour regulations, and seven of using the ATOL logo contrary to consumer protection from unfair trading regulations.
Anyone wishing to book an ATOL-protected air holiday can check if a company provides protection by looking for the ATOL logo on their promotional material, or searching the company’s name at www.packpeaceofmind.co.uk. More information about what’s covered by the scheme and how the ATOL certificate works is also available from this site."
Roger is also advising people booking trips not covered by the ATOL scheme such as those without flights or holidays booked directly with airlines, to seek alternative methods of protection such as insurance or paying with their credit card.