In a shock move that will see High Street Travel Agency membership effectively lose the long held legally mandated power to elect a Chair; ABTA board directors want the association’s future chair to be appointed directly by the Board from one of their Board directors alone effectively cutting out the memberships vote in such matters.
The ABTA Board of Directors is to propose the change at a General Meeting on November 10, when a simple majority vote will permanently change the make up of ABTA.
The association has come under increasing criticism over the years as in effect its real power has been reduced as large international holiday groups now control the industry, the 'get you home' bond is administered by the CAA, and the association has also been accused of slavishly following Foreign office travel advice even when British Citizens have been at risk in a holiday destination.
ABTA formally issued notice of the proposed change earlier this morning, members will be asked to consider “a number of proposals”, one of which will be an amendment to the process of selecting the chair.
If adopted the whole ethos of ABTA would change, moving ultimate control from elected representatives to a board dominated by appointees and elected in secret.
In addition, it not only reduces elected members on the 14-strong board from five to four, but also remove members’ direct say in who holds the most important position.
The chair leads discussion on the board, usually has a casting vote, and has responsibility for appointing and, if necessary, removing the chief executive – who, in turn, oversees the ABTA bureaucracy.
Under existing rules, candidates for chairman must be nominated and seconded by board members, although the current chairman Noel Josephides had to first win a contested election to take up the role in 2013.
ABTA proposes that “in future the chair will be appointed by the board from among its members”.
This would also remove the ability for members to propose an alternative candidate.
The association notes: “This is a model commonly used in [some] organisations to ensure the efficient running of the board and reflects the increasingly technical demands of the chairman role.”
However, it means future ABTA boards could be made up of 10 appointed and only four elected members, when its Articles of Association require ABTA should be “fully representative of travel agents and tour operators”. Clearly the more powerful factions will be in a better place to influence future policy.
Sources: ABTA, Travel Weekly, PA,
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