Travel agents hold pitch for consumer drive in regions

UK travel agents are staging a pitch for agency support in a bid to

launch a PR push to revive the sector.



The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) is looking to expand

into the regional media to build on its existing public affairs and

national media work.



This is seen as crucial as the industry struggles to woo back

holiday-makers in the aftermath of the 11 September terror attacks in

the US.



ABTA head of corporate affairs Keith Betton is on the hunt for an agency

to handle a regional consumer brief until June next year.



The hire will be ABTA's first on a consumer brief since 1991, when Scott

Gold Blyth PR was taken on to promote travel in the aftermath of the

Gulf War.



Betton this week confirmed that a pitch is to take place at the end of

this month.



Agencies that have been asked to take part are BGB Associates (the

successor firm to Scott Gold Blyth), Brighter PR, Marketeer and a

combined bid by McClusky Associates and Lingo.



Betton said: 'We feel the regional media could be doing more to promote

travel. Lobbying and national media work is already being carried out

in-house but the regions are an area we feel needs more of a push.

People are feeling nervous about planning ahead and our campaign will

counter nerves with deals and information on holiday companies that are

ABTA members.'



According to ABTA figures, since 11 September new bookings for summer

2002 holidays are down by one third.



The regional PR push will start in late December to coincide with the

peak holiday booking period.



Lobbying work by ABTA is being co-ordinated by head of policy and member

services Stephen Alcock. This is focusing on travel agents' demands to

the Treasury to be granted a six-month stay of execution on VAT payments

due next year.



ABTA chief executive Ian Reynolds is a member of lobbying group the

Tourism Alliance, a body set up last month in an attempt to give the

tourism industry a bigger say among policy-makers. (PRWeek, 19

October)



The alliance is chaired by Confederation of British Industry director

general Digby Jones.



Meanwhile, the British Tourist Authority is to plough £5m into a

campaign to attract foreign holiday-makers to Britain (PRWeek, 19

October).



The campaign will focus on promoting cities, heritage and the

countryside.



The PR campaign is being handled in-house by the BTA, but agencies are

being taken on for advertising and marketing.



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