WHA has an established, vibrant and successful travel and leisure team headed up by Chris Photi, one of the best known and respected travel professionals serving this exciting industry. With a wealth of experience in the sector, WHA are well placed to provide competitively priced travel specific advice and guidance to firms operating in this industry. WHA acts for a wide portfolio of well over 250 travel companies of all sizes, from the very small owner-managed business to advising some of the largest travel entities in the world.

Most accountants do not fully understand this complex industry. We do!

Given the complexities of the above topics it is easy to see why travel entities need specialised professional advice.

Our established team represents many travel companies. We are a worthy “partner” to assist you with your business and the rigours of the second most heavily regulated industry in the UK. We are also able to offer Pan European advice on the regulatory and tax regimes and have established expertise in relocating or establishing businesses to other European Union Member States, where certain aspects of the regulatory regime and taxation are more favourable.

We are also able to advise on the regulatory regimes in most main markets in the Rest of the World.

Such a specialised sector requires specialist knowledge on the part of its professionals. The WHA Auditing and Reporting Accountant team is experienced in all aspects of travel and encompasses the following:

  • Specialised reporting to the CAA, ABTA, Irish CAR, IPP, AITO, ABTOT and other travel specific organisations
  • We are registered ATOL Reporting Accountants (“ARAs”)
  • CAA financial, free cash and liquidity testing
  • ABTA accounts rules, bonding and asset testing
  • IATA’s mandatory auditing requirements and related financial criteria
  • A detailed working knowledge of all of the travel industry’s different reservations systems and interfacing therewith
  • Industry benchmarking
  • Analysis of risk exposure
  • Ancillary stakeholder requirements, including merchant acquirers, banks, external investments and other stakeholder parties
  • Interfacing with the WHA specialist travel tax and travel regulatory teams
  • Our Auditing and Reporting Accountant team are headed up by responsible individuals Mark Caldicott and Nikki Spoor, aided by experienced and established audit management teams and colleagues
  • Our Head of Audit and Compliance, Nikki Spoor, is vice-chairperson on the ICAEW Travel and Hospitality Advisory Committee.

No other UK accountancy practice is able to offer a fully experienced and qualified “inhouse” regulatory, licensing and bonding specialist team. Other so called travel specialist firms are unable to offer this in-house expertise, having to “buy this expertise in”

The head of our Travel and Leisure team, Chris Photi, is widely regarded as the UK’s leading travel regulatory expert. He is assisted and supported in this function by Salman Rasool, a Certified Accountant and Elliot Photi. Chris and his team can assist you in relation to all the following:

  • The 2015 European Package Travel Directive (“PTD”) and the related UK Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulation 2018
  • Brexit impact
  • Civil Aviation Authority (“CAA”) Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (“ATOL”)
  • ABTA Membership – retail and principal
  • IATA financial requirements and financial security rules
  • Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation (“CAR”) licensing and bonding – principal and retail
  • All forms of bonding, guarantees and travel specific insurances
  • The operation of Travel Trust Accounts
  • WHA offer a full application and renewal service for all forms of travel licensing, membership and accreditation
  • WHA has advised some of the UK’s largest private equity firms in relation to the regulatory framework and the specialist aspects of leveraged transactions
  • WHA have a full working knowledge of across European implementation of consumer protection per the European PTD and of the travel regulatory regimes in the US and Australia, having clients operating in both jurisdictions.

The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulation 2018, Trust Accounts are an established and proven method of consumer protection for all package sales to UK consumers and is recognised by the CAA in relation to The Civil Aviation (Air Travel Organisers Licensing) Regulations 2012. Our expertise encompasses the following:

  • Mandatory ATOL Trusts for CAA Accredited Bodies
  • The membership requirements of the trade associations who operate trusts.
  • Independent Travel Trusts to satisfy CAA mandatory and alternatives to ATOL bonding and ATOL finance testing
  • Third Party Trust protection where other conventional forms of consumer protection are deemed inappropriate
  • WHA has full working knowledge of these Trusts, how to establish them and gain approval from government regulators
  • The WHA Auditing and Reporting Accountant team has a full working knowledge of regulatory reporting in relation to Trusts
  • All non-ATOL package trust arrangements.

Due to geo-political upheaval and other uncontrollable factors it is vitally important that all companies cover risk with the appropriate insurances. We are able to broadly advise on the following types of insurance:

  • Public and Products Liability Insurance
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (“SAFI”)
  • Financial Failure Insurance (“FFI”)
  • Supplier Failure Cover (“SFC”)
  • Cruise Protection Cover (“CPC”)
  • Worldwide 24/7 Response Insurance

WHA are also able to advise on all forms of bonds, guarantees and financial security encompassing the following:

  • ATOL bonding
  • ABTA principal bonding
  • ABTA retail bonding
  • IATA Financial Security
  • Airline Security Deposit Guarantees

The travel industry has extremely complex VAT regulations and requirements. WHA are able to give full advice on the following:

  • Tour Operators’ Margin Scheme (“TOMS”)
  • The VAT Transport Company Scheme – TOMS mitigation approved by the Government
  • The Special Scheme for Travel Agents around Europe
  • A working knowledge of the EU destination, local VAT registration requirements
  • Differentiation between principal, disclosed agency and undisclosed agency
  • Full understanding of cross-border EU VAT and indirect tax legislation
  • Full working knowledge of the HMRC v Secret Hotels 2 (“Med Hotels”) VAT case
  • VAT on service charges and booking fees
  • VAT on credit and debit card transactions
  • Partial exemption special methods

Our VAT team, headed up by Chris Photi, is conversant in all aspects of travel VAT legislation. In this increasing complex area come along to travel experts who really understand VAT in the travel industry.

WHA has a team of tax specialist accountants headed up by Nikki Spoor, who advise travel companies in relation to R&D tax credits and reliefs. The travel industry is innovative, ever changing and developing. The industry spends vast amounts on R&D, particularly in relation to websites, booking and inventory systems.

This industry invests a huge amount in IT infrastructure to obtain competitive advantage in a very fast moving competitive market. The innovations can be exciting, cutting edge and very advanced. We can provide generic examples of our claims if requested, but will never publish our client’s names or their projects as we believe that this is their intellectual property. We know that we are the professionals to be able to facilitate a claim, but we will not provide details of their competitive advantage or company advancements to their competitors. Privacy and our clients business are of utmost importance to us, more so than using their innovations as a marketing tool for our practice. Our professional work will speak for itself.

To find out more information regarding the Research & Development services we provide, please click here.


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