Comment: Touring sector’s time has come

There was a moment last Wednesday at our inaugural Association of Touring & Adventure Suppliers’ Conference when I knew we’d hit on something big.

Seven supplier executives were taking it in turn to bust myths about the sector and each had just a minute to convince the audience of their argument.

At one point, as the hooter signalled the 60 seconds were up, an agent jumped to her feet to ask for the myth‑buster to be given more time as she was so interested in the points being made. In my 20 years of covering agent conferences, I’ve never seen a delegate demand a speaker be given more time!

But the agent was not alone in her enthusiasm to find out more. Atas Conference attendees were thirsty for as much information on the sector as they could get their hands on.

Many told me they’d never heard of some of the suppliers exhibiting at the trade fair, and they went home with bags stuffed to the brim with information.

One had even pre-drawn a chart and was going around ticking off which operators offered things like guaranteed departures, home pick-ups and no single supplements.

Abta this month identified touring and adventure as one of the hottest trends in travel, so maybe the strength of demand to attend the Atas Conference should have come as no surprise. Retailers, ranging from the multiples to consortia and small independents, have already started asking for delegate places for next year’s event.

It seems this sector’s time has finally come and we are determined that Atas will support everyone involved to make the most of it.

Comment from 26 October edition of Travel Weekly

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