Nikki White, Abta

Spanish chief: We need to encourage more Brits inland

Spain needs to attract more visitors to non-beach destinations if it is to continue to increase visitor numbers, delegates were told. The UK’s largest outbound

From left: Barry Moxley, Traveltime;

Sophie Thackeray, Classic Collection Holidays; Gail Dunwoodie, Attraction World; John Escott, Elite Travel Group; and Claire Moore, Peakes Travel Elite

Abta: Members can help end bad practices in resort

Fake orphanages, modern slavery and poor treatment of animals are among the problems in resorts that agents currently sell, Abta’s sustainability boss Nikki White warned.

White, director of destinations and sustainability, urged agents at the Elite Travel Group’s conference to contact Abta if they become aware of issues including plastic waste, overtourism, animal welfare, modern slavery and ‘fake’ orphanages. She vowed that Abta would

put pressure on destinations and resorts to change bad practices. White said: “We rely on hearing

about issues from members. We can take evidence to the authorities. We know it’s difficult for you as one agent to do anything, so the more we hear, [the more] we can use our power. “In some of the hotels you are

taking people to there are issues about modern slavery. Another growing issue is fake orphanages where children are taken to orphanages for tourists to see. We are seeing these pop up in Europe.

“We are looking at how we can

avoid these issues and avoid the tourist industry inadvertently supporting them.” This could involve talking to

operators that sell hotels where an issue has been flagged, or raising issues with the authorities. White urged delegates to get

involved with its Make Holidays Greener campaign, which has attracted 85,000 engagements on social media this year. Traveltime managing director

Barry Moxley said the issue was not “top of the agenda” for clients,

adding: “We care about our clients, but we are only paid to provide the booking.” But Travel With Kitts director Hazel Bryant said she had fed back customer complaints about plastic bottles in the sea to tour operators. “I will now report these issues

to Abta,” she said. “Plastics are a concern in travel worldwide.” White admitted agents were

loath to talk about some issues when trying to sell a holiday, but suggested they focus on alternatives to controversial excursions such as elephant rides.

market was visited by a record 19 million Brits in 2017. This year had been more challenging because other destinations such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia had come back on sale, said Spanish Tourist Office UK director Javier Piñanes. He said: “We have lost some

300,000 tourists in the first eight months because other countries have come back to the market, but we are not very concerned. The most important thing is we are increasing [visitor numbers].” But he admitted that for

visitor numbers to keep rising, more Brits needed to be encouraged to visit the mainland for culture, history and food, rather than beach resorts, and that more visitors were needed in the shoulder seasons. According to tourist office

figures, 92% of British visitors go to Spain’s coasts or islands and just 8% go inland. Elite Travel Group chairman Wayne Darrock said it was up to the UK trade to encourage Brits to visit other parts of Spain. › Seville highlights, page 12

‘People are avoiding Corfu due to piles of rubbish on the island’

Problems of uncollected waste in Corfu this summer were the first evidence of an issue of this kind directly impacting agents’ bookings, according to Abta. Nikki White, director of destinations and

sustainability at Abta, told delegates the association had never before witnessed such a high level of complaints about a destination issue. She said: “For the first time ever we have seen people contacting members to say they are not

going to go to Corfu because of the rubbish. The complaint ratio has been unbelievable.” Rubbish built up to unprecedented levels on the

Greek island after the closure of a full landfill site in February and problems concerning the opening of a new site. Over the summer, some rubbish was cleared before new piles built up on roadsides. White said Abta was in dialogue with the Corfu authorities to find ‘low-cost’ solutions, with the issue remaining only in parts of the north of the island.

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