By Humphrey Carter PALMA

THE spotlight of the British travel industry is going to be on Majorca this October when Abta, the Association of British Travel Agents, holds its annual convention in Palma.

Traditionally, Abta has held its convention in the Majorcan capital every ten years with the next one not due until 2013, however, Abta has decided that this year, a year for celebration for the tourist industry as its emerges from the global recession, the convention is going to be in Palma and nearly 1'000 members of the British travel industry will be travelling to Majorca for the three-day event.

With British bookings for Majorca and the Balearics up by 20 percent on last year, Abta's decision was welcomed by the local tourism authorities yesterday because it will give the region a major boost as what is expected to be one of the best summer seasons for the past three years, begins to wind down.

Abta sources told the Bulletin yesterday that “it is delighted to announce that the Travel Convention will be held in Palma between Monday 3 – Wednesday 5 October 2011.” Frances Tuke, Abta Public Relations Manager, said that the industry is very excited about the Palma convention which is going to be held at the Pueblo Español, although events will also be taking place all over the island to promote and showcase the very best of what Majorca has to offer the British travel industry.

There will also be some very important keynote speeches.
In 2003, apart from conferences given by the captains of the UK travel industry, talks were also given by the likes of Sir Max Hastings and the then Director of the CBI, Lord Digby Jones.

Tuke said yesterday that it is too early too confirm who will be speaking during the convention but Mark Tanzer ABTA's Chief Executive said: “We are delighted that this year's Travel Convention will be staged in Palma. “It will be the fifth time in ABTA's history that our annual gathering has taken place in Majorca's capital city. “This year's programme is shaping up to be one of the strongest yet and will be a not-to-be-missed event. I look forward to seeing you all there.” Tuke explained that some of the big issues which will top the agenda are going to be financial protection for customers in the wake of a number of small tour firms going under during the recession and leaving thousands of British holiday makers stranded in their resorts, government taxation, such as the Air Passenger Duty, fair trade for customers and sustainable tourism. Tuke said that the latter will feature heavily on the convention agenda, Abta was founded in 1950 and currently has 1'309 members with 5'224 outlets. Members include travel agents, tour operators and support services right across the spectrum from small family-owned businesses to the largest tour operators.

It is the largest travel association in the UK and its members provide 90 percent of the foreign package holidays in the UK as well as selling millions of independent travel arrangements and yesterday the Balearic Minister for Tourism and Employment, Joana Barcelo said that the island's tourist industry is also delighted to be hosting “one of the most important travel conventions in the world. It's excellent news for the community and will serve to put Majorca firmly back on the holiday map after a few lean years,” she added.

There will also be a host of other promotional events running throughout the convention.
For example the owner of Cosmos holidays will be mooring his super yacht Lady Marina in front of Palma's Auditorium and throwing a host of parties to celebrate the tour firm's 50th anniversary.

And, not only is the event attended by travel industry directors and employees but also the British media which will be treated to series of press trips promoting the island and guaranteeing Majorca, and in particular its new tourism activities and services, plenty of media coverage back in the United Kingdom.