A travel agent who specialises in pilgrimage tours to Israel is hoping to reach a wider audience after winning £10,000 worth of consultancy support.

Sharon Fleming (pictured, left), owner of Thompson Travel International in Portadown, Northern Ireland, triumphed in a Dragons’ Den-style competition held by Advantage Travel Centres.

She was one of three shortlisted agents who presented her plans for the business consultancy assistance.

Fleming will benefit from support from accountants Elman Wall, PR firm Lingua Communications, travel advice company The Travel Trade Consultancy and Advantage itself.

Fleming said: “I think the judges recognised that I have something special in the pilgrimages and church group bookings we offer. There is great potential to grow that to a wider UK audience.

“I would like their help in marketing so that I am attracting bookings from across the UK and Ireland.”

Fleming said she wanted assistance with Thompson Travel’s website and other marketing tools, as well as help reducing her overheads.

Judges Matt Purser, director of the Travel Trade Consultancy; Jonathan Wall, of Ellman Wall; and Karen Ramirez, of Lingua Communications, praised the high standard of the competition.

Wall said: “Sharon’s specialist groups product, as well as the retail agency, gave her a unique proposition.”

The runners-up were Mark White of Ocky White Travel in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and Sharon May from Worldwide Travel Solutions in Leeds.