Travel Counsellors has pulled out as one of the headline sponsors of this year’s Institute of Travel and Tourism conference in Gran Canaria in protest over the decision to invite former Cruise Control boss Paul Moore to speak.

Moore’s Essex-based discount retailer went out of business in November 2005 leaving ABTA, the Civil Aviation Authority, credit card companies and non-ABTA member cruiselines millions of pounds out of pocket in the biggest collapse in more than a decade.

He has been lined up in a session about bouncing back from failure with former Tapestry Holidays owner Nick Wrightman; Silverjet chief executive Lawrence Hunt, who formerly ran Dreamticket; and Doug Wardle, whose agency Wardle Travel collapsed in April 2005.

Travel Counsellors chairman David Speakman believes it is inappropriate for former Cruise Control boss Paul Moore to speak at the ITT ConferenceBut Travel Counsellors chairman David Speakman withdrew his company’s five-figure sponsorship and delegate registration on Wednesday after the ITT board unanimously backed Moore’s involvement.

“We have no wish to censor the content of the conference,” he said. “But the inclusion of Paul Moore, bearing in mind the circumstances surrounding Cruise Control’s demise, I believe is inappropriate.”

However, ITT chairman Steven Freudmann defended the decision saying Cruise Control was an ABTA member whose collapse actually cost less than Wardle Travel.

“We cannot allow an individual sponsor to dictate the business of the conference. This will be an investigative session and hopefully we will get the answers we have been waiting to hear,” he said.

Complete Cruise Solution head of sales Giles Hawke said he understood Speakman’s stance but added what Moore has to say might be interesting if he does not dwell on the past.

Carnival sales and marketing director Lynn Narraway said: “I’m disappointed. The ITT is supposed to be the academic voice for the industry.”

Moore said: “The collapse of Cruise Control was a very painful exercise and all I have been asked to do is pass on legimate information which the industry could learn from.”