The trade favours a UK location for ABTA’s travel convention next year, according to a Travel Weekly poll.

Israel, China and the UK are all understood to have submitted bids to host the Travel Convention in 2009 in Tel Aviv, Macau and Liverpool.

An online poll this week of 106 Travel Weekly readers showed 58% preferred Liverpool, compared with 29% for Macau and 13% for Tel Aviv.

With the credit crunch and fears of a tough 2009, a UK conference is thought to be popular because it is cheaper to attend and involves less time out of the office.

Liverpool is also the location of one of the UK’s largest conference venues – the Arena and Convention Centre – which opened in January.

The ACC seats up to  1,350 delegates and has 18 breakout rooms, which can accommodate between 22 and 500 people.

The Co-operative Travel director of retail distribution Trevor Davis backed a UK event. The group has around 450 agencies. He said:  “A UK conference is long  overdue. Agents are more likely to attend a UK event because of cost and time. It would be easier and cheaper.”

The group is sending 22 managers to this year’s event in Gran Canaria. “I’m sure you will eventually see a return to the majority of delegates being agents and the minority being suppliers [if it was held in the UK],” he added.

The last ABTA convention in the UK was in 1994 in Birmingham. UK conferences have suffered difficulties in the past as delegates tend to sign up at the last minute and tourist boards have been less supportive than at overseas events.

ABTA is due to announce the host destination later this year.