By Humphrey Carter
AN estimated 2.000 members of the British travel agent and tourism industry are preparing to head to Palma next month for the annual ABTA convention which the Balearic government is gearing up to use as the platform to re-launch Majorca as Britain's most popular holiday destination and shake off the ghost of the last left-wing local government. The Association of British Travel Agents is holding its annual conference in the capital from October 30 to November 3 and the Balearic government, which set up a special convention organising body in July, has recently doubled the ABTA convention budget as it pushes ahead with plans to use the event as a showcase for the island, not only in the UK but worldwide. On the back of the success of the ABTA convention, Tourism Minister Joan Flaquer wants to land the German association of travel agents and tour operators next year. The programme starts on the Thursday, October 30 with golf and tennis tournaments and a welcome night party.
For most of Friday delegates will attend a series of “abtanetworks” work shops and conferences before the president's reception and “ABTA nightspots.” Saturday involves further discussion groups and receptions in the evening while on Sunday, with delegates enjoying an afternoon at their leisure, the conference will be rounded off with the farewell party. Each day, the business sessions will follow a specific theme and feature senior industry figures as well as expert speakers from outside the travel world providing informed, intelligent insights into current travel issues and trends. Some of the guest speakers include Sir Max Hastings, yachtswoman Tracy Edwards OBE, Digby Jones, director general of the Confederation of British Industries and Allan Pease, alias Mr Body Language. The three themes for the Palma conference will be Facing the challenge, Strategies for increasing business and Faith in the future.
The convention will be hosted by tv presenter John Stapleton.
The Balearic government and the Majorcan Tourist Board are taking the convention, which is held in Palma every ten years, extremely seriously and will use the event to promote Majorca's new tourism image and the government's projects for the future of the industry in the Balearics. The local authorities will do everything possible to ensure that the 2.000 delegates leave Majorca with a positive impression of the island and, in particular the travel agents, sell the destinations to their clients.

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