Atas appoints new chair for trade engagement working group

The Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (Atas) has appointed a new chair for its trade engagement working group.

Sarah Weetman sales director at G Touring – parent of sister brands Travelsphere and Just You – takes over from Richard Forde, head of trade sales at Newmarket Holidays.

She will be supported by eight executives from Atas supplier members, along with Claire Brighton, Atas account director.

Working with Weetman will be former chairs Forde and Janet Parton, sales and marketing director at Cosmos, plus Mark Walter, head of sales (UK trade), Hurtigruten; Stu Darnley, national sales manager, G Adventures UK; Connie Georgiou, sales director, Silversea Expeditions; Becky Francis, EMEA sales director, TTC Tour Brands; Joanna Reeve, EMEA head of business development and partnerships at Intrepid Travel; and Gary King, head of trade sales, Wendy Wu Tours.

The group meets regularly to talk about ways that Atas and its members can help agents develop their knowledge and secure more bookings for touring and adventure holidays.

More: Atas announces Intrepid boss as new chair

Weetman has been in travel for 22 years and joined G Touring in 2018.

“My background is all about a focus on trade partners and helping them with what they need,” she said.

“The touring and adventure sector is very exciting – it is growing sector and there has never been such a focus on it as there is now.

“Atas is here to support trade partners to grow their business, expand in new areas and earn good commission.

“The sector is so broad – from adventure holidays to mainstream touring and solo travel – and it gives agents such a wide range of brands and products so Atas is here to help agents, whether they are experienced or new to the sector.”

She said she will be working with the new Atas chair Zina Bencheikh, Intrepid Travel EMEA managing director, and helping with her objectives for the next two years.

“The trade engagement group acts as the eyes and ears of agents – as demonstrated by the addition of the new-to-touring section at the annual conference,” said Weetman.

“The conference is very welcoming and fun – and shows agents how much earning potential there is in our sector.

“A key part of my strategy is working with Claire Brighton to deliver more statistics and facts to help agents to sell more.

“The sector has seen strong sales so far in 2023 – people want to book touring packages as they want to travel with like-minded people and be immersed in a destination. And they can’t do a lot of these experiences independently.”

Weetman also highlighted how touring and adventure companies are leading the way with sustainable initiatives, such as G Adventures’ partnership with non-profit organisation Planeterra.

Claire Brighton, Atas account director, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Sarah to be the chair of the trade engagement working group – and thank Rich for his time in the role too.

“We’ve just completed our very successful Touring & Adventure Month, which saw agents across the country learning a great deal from our members about the wonderful opportunities in our sector.

“Now we are all focused on delivering an entertaining and educational conference in Liverpool and I’m looking forward to working with Sarah and the engagement group to make the event even more insightful and fun than last year.”

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