Comment: An upbeat mood is tempered by challenges

There was a positive outlook at Abta’s Travel Convention but caution remains the watchword, says Travel Weekly’s Lucy Huxley

After a record summer for many agents and tour operators, it wasn’t surprising to find a sense of positivity and optimism at Abta’s Travel Convention in Bodrum this week.

The association’s chief executive Mark Tanzer hailed the sector’s strong rebound this year in his opening speech and predicted the recovery would continue into next year.

Speakers at our Travel Weekly Business Breakfast at the convention on Tuesday also confirmed the ongoing strength of demand and forecast a good New Year peak-booking period, with Midcounties Co-operative COO for travel channels Claire Evans reporting: “We’re booking into 2025.”

Despite the upbeat mood music in the business sessions and at the bar, however, delegates were also urged to proceed with caution, given the numerous hurdles to overcome.

Attendees were reminded of the challenges in recruiting new talent to the industry, of sustained financial pressures and of the need to meet stretching targets on sustainability as well as the impact of ongoing conflicts in Israel-Gaza and Ukraine.

Three industry news stories away from the convention served as an additional reminder of the challenges facing the trade.

First came the confirmation last week that Luxtripper had entered administration, followed by the news on Tuesday that Online Travel Training was to be wound down.

While not related to trading, the closure of the James Villas brand in a strategic decision by owner Amaze also shocked many and left more staff facing uncertainty. It goes without saying that our thoughts are with them all.

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