The new Abta chairman must be more “radical and spiky” to ensure the organisation’s voice is heard in the corridors of power.
The call came from the boss of travel technology firm Multicom as the deadline passed for nominations to become the new Abta chairman.
Demanding strong leadership of the association, the company’s managing director John Howell said: “A steady, reliable, safe pair of hands is often regarded as crucial for the stability of any organisation, while continuity of the body’s culture is also important as was seen in the search for a replacement at Old Trafford for Sir Alex Ferguson.
“But the next Abta chairman must also be prepared to be more radical and spiky, innovative and creative, if the industry’s voice is to be heard in the corridors of power.
“There are some very real and serious challenges ahead and it is vital that Abta is seen to be fighting hard and starting to win more of the arguments and influencing decisions more than it has been of late.
“While I’m not calling for a dose of the hairdryer treatment from the next Abta chairman we do need someone who is going to dig deep and fight hard for every cause that matters to agents.”
With two strong candidates confirmed – Noel Josephides and Roger Allard – Howell believes whoever wins the ballot of Abta members faces tough challenges and needs to show strong leadership.
“Both Noel and Roger have exemplary credentials and a wealth of knowledge and experience of the travel industry and are well respected by their peers,” said Howell.
“However, the travel industry has not always been successful in recent years in winning its case for the sector on the big issues of the day despite putting forward strong, well reasoned and constructive arguments.
“Many agents, for example, found the new Atol scheme cumbersome, unwieldy, confusing and expensive while the fight with the government to oppose further APD hikes has fallen on deaf ears.
“Despite an excellent campaign supported by many industry heavyweights, politicians and the wider public the Chancellor ignored the business case and pressed ahead with APD increases.”