Annual conference in Madeira receives overwhelmingly positive feedback
Following the second annual joint overseas AITO and AITO Agents’ conference in Madeira, Portugal (14-17 June, 2012), a survey has revealed that over half of the delegates found that the destination exceeded their expectations.
Sponsored by the Madeira Promotion Bureau, the conference was held in Madeira’s Capital, Funchal, and saw an engaging mix of big-name speakers, group panel discussions and an array of networking opportunities.
Delegates also had the chance to explore Madeira and to see its marine life – including a Jeep tour through deep valleys and dramatic mountains not far from the city and a whale and dolphin watching trip, accompanied by a team of marine biologists – and to enjoy, over after-dinner drinks, a spectacular firework display from the roof-top of São Tiago Fortress overlooking the harbour following a superb last-night Gala Dinner.
The prevailing feeling from the survey respondents was that Madeira was full of surprises, “appealing to all age groups, including the younger generation”. Delegates found the “locals and tourist board were incredibly welcoming” and “the island’s scenery quite beautiful”.
Paul Dayson from Spa Travel, said: “I had a fantastic time and Madeira certainly exceeded my expectations – it’s an undiscovered gem in the Atlantic. The destination has a reputation as being a ‘grey-market’ destination but I now know that this is far from the case, as it offers so much for travellers of all ages. Since I’ve returned from the conference, I have an appetite to go back and I’ve been promoting it far more to clients.”
Vanda Bauer of Classic Collection Holidays, said: “Madeira did us proud – fabulous weather, food and hospitality. Delegates were completely bowled over by the hospitality of the Madeirans and the beauty of the island. Madeira is a top-five selling destination for us and the future is looking positive, with promising sales to Madeira for 2012/13 and a 10% increase year-on-year.”
Other key findings from the conference survey were:
- 96% of delegates enjoyed the networking opportunities
- 86% of delegates made new contacts, with 70% rekindling old contacts
- 68% of delegates felt inspired and motivated
Filipe da Silva, Director of the Portuguese National Tourist Office, said: “I was surprised at the number of conference delegates who hadn’t previously visited Madeira. AITO operators and AITO Specialist Travel Agents have the perfect client profiles for Madeira – from young adventurers to couples looking for romance – and I’m confident that hosting the AITO and AITO Agents’ joint conference will increase awareness of holiday options on Madeira, thus bringing many more younger visitors to the island to enjoy Madeira for themselves.”
AITO (www.aito.com) has 145 specialist tour operators within its membership, jointly carrying in the region of 800,000 passengers annually.
AITO Specialist Travel Agents (www.aitoagents.com) represents 120 of the leading independent travel agencies in the UK – all fully independent, and all in the front line of the travel industry.
Ends/20 September, 2012
The attached image shows (left to right) Jono Vernon-Powell of Nomadic Thoughts, Filipe Silva of the Portuguese National Tourist Office, Kate Kenward, Executive Director of AITO and José Aragao of the Portuguese National Tourist Office during their walk between the island’s two highest peaks, Pico Ruivo and Pico do Arieiro. The image was taken at the highest point on the island – Pico Ruivo – which is 1,861 metres (6,106 ft) high.
For high resolution images of the conference or information on AITO and AITO Specialist Travel Agents, please call Sue Ockwell or Stephanie Reed on 020 8891 4440 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.