Aito has announced a rebrand that will see its name change from the Association of Independent Tour Operators to The Specialist Travel Association.

The acronym Aito will stay in place as the tagline changes.

The association, which has 120 tour operator members, said the new name “better describes what our members do”.

Executive director Kate Kenward said: “Times have changed and, over the years, so have Aito members.  Specialist holidays and experiences are now members’ main focus and essentially form their stand-out offering in what is a very noisy and competitive travel landscape.”

Chairman Derek Moore added: “We will be keeping the Aito acronym for the foreseeable future; it would be a shame to lose the 40-year heritage that comes with the name, but all agree that The Specialist Travel Association tagline better describes what our members do. Quite simply, they provide a huge range of special interest holidays for their customers to all corners of the world.”

Aito was established 42 years ago in 1976 and has been known as the Association of Independent Tour Operators ever since.

Other Aito brands have been adapted to reflect the “modification of the parent brand”. These include Aito Specialist Travel Agents and Aito Affiliates.

Kenward added: “Aito members are, quite simply, the experts in special interest travel. They have the knowledge, experience and, perhaps above all else, a passion for the destinations and themes that their businesses promote.  While the online DIY market may continue to gain momentum, consumers will always seek to pursue their special interests with like-minded individuals in new and different destinations.  Our members are valued by consumers from all over the world simply because of their stand-out and much sought-after specialist knowledge.”

Aito members will still be required to meet membership criteria, including the requirement to have 100% financial protection in place.

“Aito is currently collating consumer responses for its Annual Travel Insights Survey, which provides substantive key market indicators for Special Interest travel,” Kenward said. “Last year’s survey yielded over 25,000 responses, detailing types of holiday, holiday experiences and destinations sought amongst a raft of other data on this very high-yield segment of the travel market.”

The results of Aito’s 2018 Travel Insights Survey will be released at the association’s annual overseas conference in Ras Al Khaimah in November.