Established long before the major developments in the travel industry that resulted in the emergence of wholesalers and tour operators distinct from retail travel agents, the Association of British Travel Agents was designed with the aim to ensure memorable holiday abroad experience for millions of people who could only dream about such type of a vacation.
The second half of the 20th century witnessed the package holiday explosion and the rapid growth of international tourism, based on the package tour. In the United Kingdom, however, this phenomenal growth has entailed some problems, which stemmed from the difficult position of the tour operator and the customer. A number of special factors, like inadequate performance or financial failure by travel agents and tour operators caused damage to the reputation of the travel trade, and created a demand for the organization that will be able to resolve such problems or at least mitigate their consequences. This is why the Association of British Travel Agent was formed, an independent organization that has a long-established reputation for effective performance concerning financial protection for the holidaymaker.
Such protection has been provided for more than twenty years in form of individual company bonds, and is seen as the major factor that enabled the Association to achieve its current position. It made presentation and contributed significantly to the financial protection of the European Commission, which has resulted in a Directive that has brought European countries in compliance with the system that the Association of British Travel Agents operated through the Articles of Association.
In December 1992, the Package Travel Directive was put into law by all the EC members, with each country free to choose how it wanted to implement it. According to the new law, two major definitions that affect the responsibility of a person, selling or putting together a package holiday, are the definitions of an organizer and a package.
Today the Association of British Travel Agents pursues the objectives for which it was originally established and which are still seen as determinant in the Memorandum of Association, notably to develop and promote the general interests of all the Association's members, and to raise their status and prestige.
Thus, the former represents the commercial role of the Association, while the latter is evidence of its regulatory role. The commercial role of the body is to create a favorable business environment consistent with its luxury travel agents and tour operators, able to compete with other sectors of industry and trade nationwide.
Over the years the Organization has achieved much in this respect, by promoting the image of British travel agents and by offering exceptional services to its members. Offered by the Association are training at postsecondary vocational schools and colleges for a job of a travel agent. In turn, travel agents are provided with a variety of travel benefits, like reduced rates for lodging and transportation, attracting a number of people to this occupation.