Spanish inquisition

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The Independent Travel
JONATHAN Willis's tale a fortnight ago of how he saved almost 50 per cent on the brochure price of a family holiday has generated a lively response. Sue Ockwell, of the Association of Independent Tour Operators, takes issue with his sums. (Magic of Spain, the company he used for comparisons, is an AITO member.) She says he failed to take into account a free car-hire deal. Furthermore, the family took a charter flight to Malaga, rather than the scheduled flights used by Magic of Spain. Taking these into account, Ms Ockwell calculates the saving on the two-week fly/drive holiday was only pounds 467.

She was 'particularly concerned' by Mr Willis's closing comment: 'What have you to lose (by organising a DIY package) but the cost of a few international phone calls?'

'Operators take out expensive bonds for the protection of their clients' money . . . and provide representatives to turn to if there are problems,' she responds.

I am the first to agree that Britain's tour operators come up with some spectacularly good deals: this month, for example, you can spend a week in Thailand or Hong Kong for around pounds 500. But Mr Willis's enterprise showed that the DIY option is worth investigating - and because he paid with a credit card his money was protected.

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