The touring and adventure sector has an opportunity to find a new type of customer who have realised they want “more from their holidays” during the Covid-19 lockdown.

That was the message from G Adventures’ UK managing director Brian Young, chairman of the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers, as he opened the virtual Atas conference this week.

In his speech to delegates, Young said: “I wouldn’t have taken this role if I didn’t believe so passionately in our sector and Atas as an organisation, as a way to work together as a sector, to support our travellers and travel agents, and lobby government for the change and support we need.”

“Our members are at the cusp of a travel sector that has see huge growth in the past few years,” said Young, who believes “customers are changing”.

“People want more from their holidays. People want to see more places. People want experiences over stuff,” he said.

“Travel is a privilege and one we’ve learned that we can’t take for granted. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s what we want from our trips in the future.

“Now we [the touring and adventure market] are presented with a bigger opportunity than ever. The type of travellers that have come to realise that they don’t want a beach or city break, instead they want to immerse themselves in a destination.”

Young said Covid-19 had also shown the value of safety, noting that it was “never more important”, adding that a benefit of escorted tours was that they offered travel agents and their customers “confidence and peace of mind” that protocols were being followed.

He also noted the sector’s role as an enabler of positive change within the destinations Atas members operate in, praising companies in the market for being a “force for good” which can “provide agents and customers with confidence that they can make a difference”.

Young finished by rallying the touring and adventure sector to get behind Atas’ lobbying efforts, adding: “I want to reassure you all that we are, as an organisation, shouting and fighting as hard as we can to lobby for the support our industry truly deserves.”