Julia wants YOU to join Outbound Travel Forum

By Lisa James
Home » Julia wants YOU to join Outbound Travel Forum

Representatives from 30 industry groups and companies have expressed interest in joining the new UK Outbound Travel Forum so far – and founder member Julia Lo Bue-Said is encouraging grass roots agents to come forward too.

The Advantage Travel Partnership CEO announced back in December that she wanted to create a group that would speak with one voice and represent the whole travel industry.

On Monday, Julia and seven representatives met with former Transport Minister Steve Norris at Westminster to sound out ideas and a way forward.

Mr Norris told the group he’d understood more about the industry in the hour-long meeting than during his whole time in Government – which Julia said shows ‘the outbound sector is just not represented’ and underlines the need for a group to communicate more closely with MPs and civil servants.

Julia said: “Not everyone who’s expressed an interest was involved in the first meeting, simply because we were limited on space and I didn’t want our first meet-up to be held with 30 people on Zoom.

“The idea was to get together to ascertain whether there was an appetite for a group and whether we wanted to work together on a macro level.

“We’ve come away feeling pretty inspired. We’re now updating our stakeholders and seeing where we go from here.”

Although it’s called UK Outbound Travel Forum, Julia said the group would represent the interests of incoming and outgoing travel.

“It’s the whole ecosystem. Outbound is how the Government refers to the travel industry,” she said.

“It was great to get Steven’s view and how we need to educate backbench MPs and civil servants. We need to make sure that Government understands the sector.

“To get traction we have to align ourselves to what Government wants to achieve. Our group is about performing a role that will get us help, guidance and support.

“For example, the Government is doing post-Brexit deals but unless you can get people on planes, working with the business travel community, we are not going to maximise these deals, so they need to understand the importance of the travel industry.”

Julia said she had no idea when she issued her rallying cry in December about what sort of response we would get.

But she said: “We’ve been genuinely overwhelmed by the comments and the appetite to really put something together.”

Last month, she announced she was forging ahead with plans for the forum.

“This isn’t about Advantage leading it. We want as many people to be involved as possible. But we have to be clear about where we want to get to, that it won’t happen overnight and it will need funding,” she explained.

She urged Travel Gossip members to get involved.

“Most of Travel Gossip readers and group members are small or medium size businesses who may not be big companies but they play a really vital role in the travel ecosystem and they can add a lot of value, for example, by speaking to their backbench MPs who can lobby the Government on their constituents’ behalf.”

Julia said the UK Outbound Travel Forum will be funded by ‘organisations that feel they have an appetite to be part of it and are willing to put their hands in their pocket’ but she added: “We are not expecting smaller businesses to put their hands in their pockets.

“We’d just like them to contact us. We all stand to benefit.”

Former PR and Comms Director for The Travel Network Group and Thomas Cook Alexis Coles Barrasso, who is working as a consultant for the Outbound Travel Forum, added: “Other industries do this really well and benefit from it. Now’s the time to showcase how important we are, how significant we are, how many people we employ, how much money we contribute and how the economy benefits.

“Agents want to belong to a group and to be a collective voice.”

To find out more, email: [email protected]

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