Specialising in the touring and adventure sector can help travel agents ride out the challenges of Brexit and sell more holidays in a growing market.

That was the message to delegates at the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers conference, held at the Old Trafford cricket ground in Manchester (September 18-19).

melinis-sqPaul Melinis, Atas chairman and APT UK and Europe managing director, said the association had expanded from just 12 founder members three years ago to 29 supplier members and 22 associate members now – as well as “a huge upturn in agent members”.

He told delegates: “These are challenging times, with an impact on consumer confidence and booking patterns, but Atas members are still investing in their sales teams and striving to give you the tools to grow your touring and adventure business.

“The time has never been better to embrace this lucrative sector – seize the moment and work with Atas members to build your knowledge and sales.”

hawke-sqGiles Hawke, chief executive of Cosmos, said: “The fact that we are all working together (with Atas) means that there are more travel agents looking at the sector more seriously – awareness and visibility is increasing exponentially.

“There will be dedicated travel agents, like there are dedicated cruise specialists.

“We are seeing more agents, and our sales team is growing as our travel agency business is increasing.”

Nealon-sqBen Nealon, travel account director at Mail Metro Media, said there is a lot of negativity in the economy, with issues such as Brexit, Trump and airline strikes.

He quoted research that said economic growth will be stunted by 2-8% for at least 15 years following Brexit – but there are “glimmers of hope” as people are still booking holidays.

Readers of Mail Metro Media titles spent £35 billion on travel in the past year, and just over half plan to spend the same or more on holidays.

More than 350 delegates attended the conference, which also heard from TV presenter and Just You ambassador Claire Sweeney, and G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip.

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Find more from Atas at touringandadventure.com