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NEWS FACE TO FACE


PAUL


MELINIS Atas


APT’s managing director has succeeded Giles Hawke of Cosmos as chairman of the Association of Touring & Adventure Suppliers (Atas). He spoke to Robin Searle ahead of the association’s second conference in Birmingham this month


Q. You are the second chairman of Atas – why were you keen to take on the role? A. I have spent 25 years in the travel industry, 18 years of which have been firmly focused on promoting touring. With my product knowledge and passion for this travel style, I was keen to get more involved, and it seemed a natural next step to pick up the mantle from Giles and continue to build on the foundations he has laid for Atas. Touring has evolved


almost beyond recognition. Long gone are the days where it symbolised coach touring around the UK for pensioners. Today’s touring and adventure portfolio is dynamic and offers clients the opportunity to explore a huge variety of destinations around the globe, and experience incredible hand- picked adventures along the way. For me, heading up Atas offers the opportunity


18 travelweekly.co.uk 4 October 2018


The baby boomer market, combined with amazing repeat rates and evolving product, leaves the sector in a fantastic place for growth


to share my enthusiasm for touring and help further elevate its profile and growth.


Q. How have you found the response to Atas in its first 18 months? A. Starting a new organisation is always going to be a challenge. It’s natural to be concerned about how it will be received and whether there is enough appetite to make it work. Luckily, the engagement from agents and operators has been, and continues to be, amazing. For example, shortly after launching Atas we had more than 200 agents join our first conference and that just highlights the demand.


Q. What will your priorities be as chairman? A. My main priority is firmly centred on education, with the aim of getting as many agents as possible to really understand the product offering. Education comes in many forms and so with the partnership of Atas members we’ll use a range of formats – from fam trips, through to video tutorials and our Atas training programme – to achieve our goal. Once agents understand what a touring or adventure holiday is, then they can promote it to the right guest.


Q. You have a history of championing the sector with


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