The Scottish Passenger Agents Association’s (SPAA) incoming president has unveiled a new agent awards and a scholarship programme to attract young talent.

Joanne Dooey, the SPAA’s first Scottish female president, made the announcements at the SPAA’s annual general meeting on Thursday.

Scottish agents and managers in both leisure and business sectors will be honoured in the inaugural Sparkle Awards in September 2020.

The Sparkle Awards will be in addition to the SPAA’s existing awards, which largely honour suppliers, along with a handful of agencies.

Dooey, who owns three-branch agency Love To Travel, said: “People are at the heart of our businesses and I am passionate about recognising the people at the coal face of our industry.

“So we will be starting an awards event for sales staff and managers in both leisure and business travel the first event will take place in September next year and these awards will be called the Sparkle Awards.”

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Dooey added: “I feel there is a lack of youth coming into the travel industry so I want to champion an SPAA scholarship programme helping our members to take school-leavers into their businesses, using the resources of our associate members to help with these people’s development.”

Dooey officially took over as president from Ken McLeod at the AGM, where she paid tribute to her predecessor.

“I know I have big shoes to fill,” she said, praising McLeod’s “support and diplomacy” in steering the SPAA council.

Dooey highlighted a number of areas she expects the industry to face challenges in over the course of her two-year tenure, including Atol reform.

“The collapse of Thomas Cook was a major blow to our industry and flags up the real need to reform the Atol process,” she said. “It is broken, it doesn’t work and the Monarch and Thomas Cook collapses have proven this.

“We repatriated customers who did not book an Atol-protected holiday so what is the point? This is the government and the Department of Transport’s role to solve.

“We will carry on our talks and relationships with MPs and MSPs to get our points and our concerns heard.”