By Noel Josephides, chairman of Abta

We all know how tough it has been for travel businesses over the last few years, there are few of us who’ve escaped the consequences of the worst recession in decades.

On the brighter side, across the sector as a whole and particularly if you compare the UK with other countries, job losses have been relatively modest and wages, though never good, have at least held firm.

To put things into perspective, tourism in Egypt is suffering the consequences of major political unrest. In Greece, the economy is showing no real improvement, wages are falling and unemployment is at a catastrophic level, as are taxes. In Spain, youth unemployment stands at 56.1%.

I’ve done almost two months now as Abta chairman and I’m asked a lot whether it’s what I expected, how much of my time it takes and if I’m enjoying it.

Don’t forget that I was already heavily involved as a board member and chairman of the membership committee so I had a very good idea about how the system works.

What is new to me is the increased contact I have with Abta members, which I promised I would do my best to foster.

Last week I was in Glasgow for the regional meeting. Every year, Abta hosts two rounds of regional meetings around the country which are free for all members to attend.

They’re a chance for members to hear the latest news on what the association is doing for them, and to find out the latest on what is happening with travel trends, with destinations and with new regulations.

I found it encouraging that the session was so interactive – we had lots of feedback and questions from the audience on topics ranging from travel insurance to sales trends and the importance of increasing runway capacity at Heathrow.

I would like to thank those who made the effort to come along and to Virgin for sponsoring the evening. There was a lot of useful information to be had and everyone should, of course, be making use of these meetings.

All of us should be thinking, day and night, about how to maintain our precious jobs and making every effort to educate ourselves and to improve in all respects.It’s also important to hear aboutwhat your association is doingfor you.

There are 10 more regional meetings between now and the end of October, and I am coming to eight of them so that I can develop a feeling for each region and understand the problems unique to each one.

I hope very much to have the opportunity of meeting you all at one of these events.