ABTA is to hold its 2009 convention in Barcelona for the first time.

The Travel Convention will be held on October 6-8 and it will be the fourth year the event has been held in Spain.

At this year’s convention in Gran Canaria, chief executive Mark Tanzer said it was vital the association continues to hold an overseas conference. But he said there would be smaller versions of the event at two or three UK venues to ensure agents do not miss out if they cannot afford to attend the main convention. No details of UK venues have been confirmed at this stage.

Barcelona was considered as a venue in 2006, but ultimately lost out to Athens and then Marbella. The city has at least three large conference venues and is easily accessible from airports across the UK.

Observers said negotiating attractive hotel rates will be key to attendance next year, given the economic downturn and the exchange rate of the pound against the euro.