See pictures from the event here

The proportion of sales of touring and adventure holidays made through the trade rose again last year, with forward bookings suggesting a continued upward curve over the next two years.

The trend was highlighted from booking data supplied by the majority of members of the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers and was revealed at the association’s second annual conference in Birmingham on Monday.

Paul Melinis, chairman of Atas and managing director of APT, said the proportion of bookings made through agents so far in 2018 was 38%, up from 37% in 2017 and 20 percentage points higher than the 28% recorded for 2015 bookings.

Melinis said forward booking data indicated a further growth in trade sales, with the proportion of sales through agents projected to rise to 41% in 2019 and 44% in 2020.

More than 240 frontline agents attended the conference at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre. They were joined by 28 supplier members and 13 associate members of the association.

The event included business sessions, an immersive trade fair and a gala dinner and awards, and was supported by consumer media partner Global, technology partner Tigerbay and destination partner Dominica.

Melinis said: “The journey we have made in the 18 months since Atas was founded has been incredible, and we have more to come next year with improved training, a new specialist programme and an agent-voted Top Tours and Amazing Adventures awards.

“The sector is in a fantastic place, and the members of Atas are all delighted to be seeing growth in both yields and sales through our valued partners in the trade.”

Conference moderator Lucy Huxley said: “The number of agents in attendance is testament to the impact that Atas has had in the short time it has been in existence.

“The buzz around the trade fair and the enthusiasm of delegates to learn more about this incredible sector just goes to show that there is a real appetite to make touring and adventure a key part of their business mix.”