Departures: Fighting fund

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The Independent Travel
PEAK SEASON holiday bookings may have been given a boost by the recent surge in the pound, but the tour-operating business is still in poor shape.

According to the Air Travel Trust (ATT), which manages a fund used to reimburse holidaymakers when failed operators' bonds prove inadequate, last year was one of the worst on record for operator failures. The ATT says that as a result of the large number of collapses, its fund is now 'virtually exhausted'.

Last year, 24 tour operators went out of business, necessitating refunds of pounds 18.5m. A total of 30,000 passengers were left stranded by the collapses and 128,000 customers' advances had to be refunded.

The ATT Fund was depleted by almost pounds 6m and now stands at pounds 9.84m. The fund's trustees warn that prospects for the current financial year are 'unsettled'. A levy on holiday sales will be introduced by the Government to replenish the fund.