The chairman of Abta has pledged to look at how the industry can trigger a return to more accurate and informative holiday reporting programmes on TV.
McEwan, speaking after the last episode of BBC TV series Holiday Hit Squad, said programme makers often ignored the fact the vast majority of holidaymakers have a “fantastic experience” by focusing on problems encountered by a few consumers.
Popular past shows such as ITV’s Wish You Were Here..? and the BBC’s Holiday were “compelling viewing” and gave useful tips from travel experts, he said.
“The beauty of Wish You Were Here..? was you had a reporter looking from the inside out; it was a bit like having your own informed travel agent giving you advice,” McEwan added.
McEwan plans to gauge the views of senior industry figures and look into whether Abta could create its own digital programme or lobby TV channels for more informative shows.
“The question is whether as an industry we can be more proactive in making our own programmes or lobby to bring back the likes of Judith Chalmers. We need to do more than reality shows on Benidorm.”
TV shows Holiday Hit Squad and Rip-Off Britain have been condemned for being misleading and failing to promote travel professionals.
Lindsay Garvey-Jones, Holiday Extras’ national partnerships manager, said: “There is nothing to encourage customers into agents or to visit operators online.”
Homeworker Sandie Nutter, of Independent Travel Experts, has complained to the BBC about the sensationalist nature of Holiday Hit Squad. “It said it would offer tips from experts but didn’t,” she said. ITE director Amanda
Taylor said TV shows often gave the trade a bad name despite showing product not sold by agents.
An Abta spokeswoman said: “Abta met the production company making what eventually aired as Holiday Hit Squad very early in production.
“It’s fair to say we would have been happier if these programmes had given a more balanced view and portrayed some of the positives to travel too.”
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