THE Institute of Travel and Tourism has blamed the economic
climate for a fall in the number of delegates due to attend its Malta conference
next week.

ITT chairman Steven Freudmann admitted numbers would
end up about 50 down on last year after companies slashed the number of staff
attending or pulled out altogether.

So far, 225 delegates have registered but Freudmann is
hopeful a surge in last-minute bookings will bring numbers to 250. Up to 300
delegates had been targeted in line with normal attendance levels.

Freudmann said: “I think the reason is the economic
climate. Last year companies sent four or five people, this year they have sent
one or two. The ITT has a different delegate list to other conferences – it’s
more about networking.”

Of the big four, only TUI UK was set to be represented
in any number at the conference with three members of top management attending.
Thomas Cook was sending one delegate because senior staff had other
commitments, while from the First Choice group only Sovereign managing director
Philippa Harris was due to attend.

No-one from MyTravel was on the delegates list. It is
understood the conference was too close to the company’s interim results.
Freudmann maintained this year’s conference would show ITT was back on track
after a “traumatic year” with a number of new initiatives to be unveiled. One
of these will relate to the ITT hosting events with other organisations over
the next year to increase its student membership.