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Thu 1 Nov 2007 12:00 AM

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DTTAG recommends agent fee structure

The reformed Dubai Travel & Tour Agents Group (DTTAG) has made recommendations as to the fees agents should charge their customers.

The reformed Dubai Travel & Tour Agents Group (DTTAG) has made recommendations as to the fees agents should charge their customers.

The move marks the group's first major step towards achieving one of its key aims - to improve the standards and professionalism of Dubai's travel agent community.

DTTAG has suggested that from November onwards, members and non-members alike should adopt the following charges: no less than AED 100 (US $27) for holiday quotes, refundable when booking made; a AED 100 ($27) refund processing fee on the top of airline charges; and AED 25 ($6.70) per passenger for reissue or revalidation of tickets, reconfirmations and authority to board messages.

"We are not imposing anything; this has been driven by the membership and we have listened to what they want," explained DTTAG president and Dnata Agencies senior vice president Iain Andrew.

"A standardisation mechanism for these charges has been endorsed by members of the executive committee."

Reformed earlier this year, DTTAG now boasts 65 members, which according to the group's manager Leo Fewtrell represents an 80% market share of Dubai's total travel agency business.

"We have also had the Cyprus Tourism Organisation come on board and three other tourism boards, including Tourism Ireland (which Fewtrell represents in the GCC) is about to sign up," he said. "This gives them an opportunity to get closer to the agents and understand the issues they face so they can apply this to their business. It also gives them an avenue into the agents for promoting their destinations."

Fewtrell also revealed that cruise operator Royal Caribbean, which has had a strong relationship with the GCC travel trade for some years had now become a DTTAG partner member. In addition, travel services provider EmQuest, which distributes GDS Galileo as well as AIG insurance have signed up to sponsor the group.

Sponsorship funds along with membership fees will help subsidise many initiatives including agent training.

The first such subsidised training session took place at the Emirates Aviation College last month and covered one of the industry's most burning issues - zero commission.

A group of 24 Dubai travel agents, from general managers to sales staff took part, paying just AED 200 (US $54 per person - a saving of around AED 300 ($82) per head thanks to DTTAG's bargaining power and a top up from well-spent membership fees. Andrews said he was also continuing to work closely with the Dubai government to help travel agents and tour operators understand the new licensing issues that are now valid from January 1, 2008, instead of August 1 next year as originally anticipated.

But despite the proven service DTTAG is providing for its members, Andrew said he was disappointed that many members of Dubai's 350-strong travel agency community were yet to join the group.

"For some it's difficult to forget the past," he said.

"Many of them paid fees to the old DTTAG in good faith and didn't get any value, so it's a fair criticism."

He stressed that the new DTTAG had reduced membership fees and would provide "value for money".

"Most agents want to be regulated - no one says they don't want a body," he said. "So they need to come together as a united front and become a force to be reckoned with for the benefit of the industry."

Any member of the travel trade interested in becoming a group member should call +971 (0)4 334 6166, e-mail
info@dttag.com

or visit
www.dttag.com

.

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