Travel Convention 2016: Diversify or die says Abta chief

Holiday destinations face growing pressures, Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer told The Travel Convention in Abu Dhabi, as he warned “a niche could become a tomb” for travel firms which do not diversify.

Tanzer said: “There are some real challenges – first and foremost around security. The threat of terror attacks, real or perceived, is rising. We’ve not yet seen customers deterred from traveling, but we have seen customers switching to countries seen as safer.”

He warned: “The world of destinations can shrink. Companies need flexibility so a niche does not become a tomb.”

But Tanzer also asked: “How do you balance growth in visitor numbers with maintaining a destination? Destinations may not have the space, the money or the will to make investments. The challenge is to think about value rather than growth in numbers and to do that we need new ways to measure [value].”

He told the Convention: “We can tend to make a fetish of innovation. Technology is a means not an end.

“Ten years ago the travel technology debate was about offline versus online and how rapidly online would kill offline. Reality didn’t turn out that way. Technology has changed the face of travel, but it has been more evolutionary than revolutionary.

“In the last 10 years, new businesses have arisen, some big names have disappeared. [But] we’ve learned the customer doesn’t value choice alone.”

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