The 2007 Aspire conference has been postponed after failing to attract enough delegates and sponsors.
The Institute of Travel and Tourism, which runs the conference for students and young industry professionals, said less than 100 of the anticipated 500 delegates had signed.
The fourth annual conference, due to be held on March 28-29 at trade fair Spanish Tourism Exchange for Professionals in London, costs around £100,000 a year to run.
Organisers are now in talks to hold Aspire at World Travel Market in London’s ExCel in November, which they hope will be more attractive to potential delegates.
ITT chairman Steven Freudmann said: “The numbers and sponsorship we achieved with just weeks to go did not justify it. There was also perceived concern about the cost of London. We rang colleges and there seems to be a general lack of funding this year to send students.”
None of the multiples Thomas Cook, MyTravel, Thomson or First Choice had committed to sending staff. Although Advantage and Worldchoice publically supported the event, few members signed up.
In its first year Aspire attracted 300 delegates, with 350 in its second year, and 450 last year.
“We still believe it’s an event the industry should sustain,” said Freudmann.
Danny Waine, final year Travel and Tourism Management student at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, was disappointed by the news.
“I cannot accept colleges lack funds. This would have been my third time at Aspire and each time we’ve put money aside to fund the trip,” he said.
The delay could have a negative impact on recruitment, he added. “The multiples are being short-sighted. From a student’s perspective it makes you think of working for companies outside of travel which value their staff.”
Full refunds are available to delegates who have already booked and cannot come in November.