ABTA CONFERENCE: ABTA delegates debate travel’s retail revolution - Danny Rogers reports from Australia on travel industry body ABTA’s 1999 convention

The UK holiday industry got a dose of its own medicine last weekend, as it spent four days shacked up in rain-drenched Queensland.

The UK holiday industry got a dose of its own medicine last

weekend, as it spent four days shacked up in rain-drenched


The 1800 delegates - representing travel agencies, tour operators and

airlines - thrashed out the issues facing the industry as the tropical

rains beat down on Cairns’ spanking new international convention


The grey skies were a reminder of the tough times facing UK travel

agents, which have to deal with a revolution in the way holidays are


The overriding theme of the conference was how agents could adapt to the

upheaval wrought by the growth of call centres and the internet.

The ’Agent of the Future’ report, by travel technology specialist

Amadeus and ABTA, predicted that increased business through digital

channels would split travel retail in two.

Indeed, despite the rain, the feeling was upbeat. While the holiday

industry may have a reputation for being slightly luddite, it is full of

entrepreneurs who will not sit back and accept their fate.


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