Advantage boss reveals Government official’s surprise that travel agents ‘still existed’

Julia Lo Bue-Said
By Harry Kemble
22/05/2023
Home » Advantage boss reveals Government official’s surprise that travel agents ‘still existed’

The boss of Advantage Travel Partnership says a senior Government official told her they were ‘surprised travel agents still existed’.

Speaking at the consortium’s annual conference in Benidorm, CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said revealed the exchange with the unnamed official as she gave her keynote speech on Sunday (21 May).

Julia said: “A senior Government official recently said to me they were surprised travel agents still existed. It’s not the first time we’ve heard this.”

In 2021, former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps implied travel agents were a thing of the past during a Downing Street COVID briefing.   

She added: “It’s simply not an option to let people running the country think this way.”

Julia told delegates the industry had made ‘good progress’ by working with the Government in recent months.

“In the last year we joined forces with our colleagues at AITO and formed a lobbying arm to help raise the profile of the industry, we’ve taken on the support of a Westminster-based public affairs consultancy and also formed our own in-house member led Advantage Policy Advisory Group,” she said.

“Our increased political engagement is enabling us to collectively work at influencing [and] making strong representations.

“When we hit the next crisis – and we will – we will have built some strong foundations for the UK outbound travel sector through increased collaboration and recognition.”

Julia told Travel Gossip that the travel industry needed to be ‘visible’.

Advantage recently launched an Advantage Members MP Toolkit to help members engage with MPs.

“Our ambition to ensure the sector is recognised as a key economic driver hasn’t waivered,” Julia said.

She added: “Most people, including government, assume that the outbound travel sector, which incidentally is valued at £80 billion, generates more revenue for other countries than it does for the UK.”  

Recent consumer research carried out by Advantage shows the average UK adult will spend £200 or more on goods and services, such as clothes and airport parking, before leaving the UK to go on holiday.

People in the north-east of the country were the biggest spenders on their pre-holiday purchases, splurging an average of £220 before flying away.

Read more coverage from the Advantage conference:
Advantage to expand team to support new members
Advantage members gain new clients but worry about staffing levels
Advantage offers members new website packages
Advantage members to join reporting system to fight fraud

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