Travel can look forward with ‘high degree of optimism’, says Advantage chief

The travel sector can look forward with a “high degree of optimism” despite mounting challenges, according to the chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership.

In her opening speech at the consortium’s annual conference in Cancun, Mexico, Julia Lo Bue-Said cited numerous hurdles the industry must overcome including global political uncertainty, rising geopolitical tensions and financial pressures.

“While inflation appears to now be under control, high interest rates, energy and food poverty are impacts for all major economies,” she said. “This year we are also set to witness a remarkable milestone in political history with over four billion people going to the polls, creating heightened geopolitical unrest.”

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However, she said Advantage members are not yet seeing these issues affect their business, revealing new members have added a further £108 million of sales to the group’s turnover over the past 12 months.

“Despite the external macro pressures, I’m pleased to report that Advantage has achieved exceptional growth and made significant progress,” she told delegates.

“Today, as a global network, our members generate over £15.6 billion in global sales annually – with £7.6 billion from our UK membership.”

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Lo Bue-Said referenced research that suggests consumers will continue to prioritise travel spend despite financial pressures, causing further reason for hope, and said the consortium is well-placed to navigate challenges thanks to the “strategic framework” put in place during the Covid pandemic.

“Many of the indicators show that holidays and travel remain of vital importance to people and business, so we can look forward with a high degree of optimism,” she said.

“The strategic framework we’ve had in place since Covid has served us well, and as we look ahead to 2024 and beyond, we will continue with agility to adapt to market conditions.”

‘Bold approach’ to go long-haul

Lo Bue-Said said Advantage had taken a “bold approach” by choosing to host this year’s conference in a long-haul destination – the first of its kind since the 2018 event was staged in Miami.

She said the aim of the conference was to “create an event that would challenge our aspirations, fulfil our commitment to sustainable leadership and champion the positive impact of travel, while highlighting the sector’s, profound economic and social influence.”

“I believe we have taken a bold approach – not being afraid to champion long-haul travel and with a strong emphasis on purposeful content,” she said.

“Our objective was to be able to demonstrate travel as a force for good, to give back and engage with the local community, while also creating a lasting impact for this beautiful destination.”

This year’s conference is being held at the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort and Spa between May 15-18.

On Saturday, delegates will participate in a “giving back” activity day or take part in an environmental project.

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