THE Co-operative Travel Trading Group (CTTG) has launched a campaign to warn holidaymakers of the financial risks involved in booking a "do it yourself" holiday.
CTTG's campaign comes at the same time as it presses the Government on the importance of strong consumer protection measures. CTTG is outlining its position to more than 100 MPs with policy interests in this area.
The Government has acknowledged the problem of the decline in the coverage provided by the existing Air Travel Operators' Licence scheme and is expected to make an announcement on the issue in the new year.
ABTA has also spoken out on the issue and, at its recent conference, it announced its intention to enforce a new policy during the 2005 season, including the handing out of information to customers.
CTTG has worked with the Civil Aviation Authority to develop its ?Holiday Lottery' campaign, aimed at the many travellers who aren't aware that they are effectively playing the lottery with their own money when arranging a holiday independently.
Earlier this year it was revealed that independent holiday sales ? where flight, accommodation and other components such as car hire, are booked separately ? had outgrown traditional package holidays for the first time. Next year, this figure is set to grow further.
Mike Greenacre (pictured), CTTG's Chief Operating Officer, explained: "At a time of intense competition in the travel market, when a number of holiday companies have collapsed in the last three months, this is of great concern to us and we want to play our part in making the public more aware of the risks they are taking."
Mr Greenacre backed calls from the Civil Aviation Authority to have travel protection extended to cover all advance-paid, UK-originating international return flights and would also like the Government to introduce a similar system on all other forms of transport.
He said: "Even when people are aware of the risks, they often make the mistake of assuming they are protected by travel insurance. However, most policies specifically exclude airline insolvency, leaving holidaymakers totally exposed."
An advice leaflet, Winning The Holiday Lottery ? compiled with help from the CAA ? is now available in over 600 Co-op Travel and Travelcare branches.
CTTG is also lobbying in Parliament for decisive action and has urged local consumers to tackle their MP on the issue ahead of the Government's announcement.