Association of Independent Tour Operators

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Association of Independent Tour Operators
Aito CorporateCMYK(1).jpg
Abbreviation AITO
Region served
United Kingdom

The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) is a British-based travel industry trade group that represents around 120 specialist and independent tour operators. Members operate to over 170 countries, including the UK, with activities spanning a range of interests including adventure, city break, culture, fly drive, luxury, safaris and sports. AITO was established in 1976 and its headquarters are based in Twickenham, south-west London.

To become a member, AITO tour operators must have full consumer protection in place. Through this requirement, its quality charter and promotion of sustainable tourism initiatives, AITO upholds high standards within the travel industry. It also influences policy that affects consumers and travel industry; particularly initiatives related to independent tour operators.[1]


AITO members offer full protection of consumer holiday funds, a wide range of specialist holidays, quality customer service and a sustainable approach to travel.[2] There are around 120 Tour Operator members, but around 500 members within the association including AITO Agents, AITO Affiliate Tourist Offices and AITO Affiliate Business Partners.

Quality Charter[edit]

As a requirement for membership, AITO Tour Operators must follow AITO’s "Quality Charter". It covers the following measures of quality:

  • Exclusive membership criteria
  • Financially secure holidays
  • Accurate brochures and web sites
  • Professional service and continual improvements
  • Monitoring standards
  • Sustainable tourism
  • Fair customer relations[3]

Sustainable tourism[edit]

AITO has led several sustainable tourism (ST) initiatives in the past, notably a ST Star accreditation scheme which ceased in 2013. In 2016 it revisited its Sustainable Tourism values and launched Project PROTECT. Standing for People, Resources, Outreach, Tourism, Environment, Conservation and Tomorrow.[4] Project PROTECT is designed to protect the destinations members operate in. Each member of the association is required to make a pledge, which is reported at the end of the year. The 5-year programme was designed in partnership with the University of Surrey and Sustainable Tourism thought leader Professor Xavier Font. Progress and measurable change will be monitored by AITO HQ, AITO Council, Prof Xavier Font and a PHD student from the University of Surrey.[5]