Paul Moore, former boss of Cruise Control claims the collapse of his discount retailer blew a hole in the market for first-timers which the sector has struggled to fill a year on.

Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly on the anniversary of the spectacular collapse, Moore said the trade has been left scrapping over the same customers because not enough is being done to convert land-based holidaymakers.

Moore said: “One thing we did was expand the market. We spent a lot of money but our philosophy was to educate people about what a wonderful product cruise was. We left a hell of a hole that somebody could have stepped in to fill.”

Moore said Cruise Control produced 14 million supplements for national newspapers each month, converted one third of enquiries and 70% of customers were new to cruise.

It is believed much of Cruise Control’s business was absorbed by retailers such as 1st4cruising, which snapped up its 226,000-name database. But Carnival UK director of sales and marketing Lynn Narraway said it is more reliant now on operator such as Virgin Holidays attracting first-timers.

“From a conversion rate point of view there is still work to do,” she said.

Royal Caribbean International has a land-based holiday price comparison feature on its website to help agents.

“What’s included in the price is the key thing to get across,” said UK sales and marketing director Jo Rsymowska.

Moore has since set up two websites offering cash back for online shoppers and that has deals with 900 retailers.