AITO adds key speakers to line-up at 2018 conference in Ras Al Khaimah

November 1, 2018 | AITO – Association of Independent Tour Operators

Sustainable tourism

AITO, The Specialist Travel Association (, has announced further speakers at its conference (22 – 25 November) in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.

John Peters

The conference offers AITO tour operators and AITO Specialist Travel Agents the opportunity to address the big issues currently affecting the travel sector.

Sponsored by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) and supported by Emirates, the theme of the conference is a Tale of the Unexpected. The location itself was an unexpected surprise for many delegates and one that offers a mix of modern and traditional, of luxury and character and a contrast to the fast pace and bright lights of its neighbour, Dubai. Ras Al Khaimah is an exciting Gulf State on the cusp of change.

High-profile speakers at the conference will include the following:

John Peters, Business Coach, Director of Monkey Business and former RAF officer          
John Peters came to the world’s attention in January 1991, when he was captured and publicly beaten during Saddam Hussein’s ruthless reign. At the conference John will explore how he overcame his Prisoner of War ordeal, incorporating humour and candour which is personal, emotive and challenging. Using his experiences, he provides an insider’s view on resilience and how to turn the impossible into the possible. A business coach since 2000, he relates his experiences to challenge audiences to reflect on how they can adapt to an ever-changing world and change outdated habits and perceptions of success.

Eliza Filby, Academic, Writer, Broadcaster and Public Speaker specialising in contemporary values and generations
In 2014 Eliza Filby started GradTrain, a business providing bespoke employability training for graduates and now a leading training organisation for universities. Her talk at the AITO conference will explore the Millennial Generation, an important group to AITO members as they are not only the travellers of the future, but also the workforce of the future. Eliza will delve into data, existing research, and future trends as well as her own experiences of training graduates from across the world and how this can help businesses, policy makers and the media to try to navigate the Generation Gap dominating society right now.

Chris Smit, MD of Culture Matters
Amsterdam-born Chris is a consultant and coach and has worked in more than 45 different countries, sharing his knowledge of cultural diversity and company culture. He has a wealth of experience in implementing programmes and giving seminars on intercultural business and awareness. At the AITO Conference 2017 in Évora, the Alentejo region of Portugal, Chris covered Cross Border Relationships in Europe. This year he will talk about Brexit, beyond Europe, the USA and Trump.

Says Chairman of AITO, Derek Moore: “We are developing a punchy and diverse conference programme this year to match the theme; a Tale of the Unexpected. The rising star of the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah, is the perfect stage for exciting and interesting talks and adventurous activities. RAKTDA has been extremely supportive in its organisation of the event and we look forward to bringing our members to this little-known destination in November.”

Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, comments: “The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority is looking forward to welcoming AITO members and extending our country’s unique hospitality in what is one of the fastest growing destinations in the region. RAKTDA is gearing up to provide AITO’s delegates with a thrilling programme of destination tours. Our aim is to showcase authentic nature-based and Arabian cultural experiences and adventures that combine mountains, coast and desert landscapes with our rich heritage and history.”

For more information on AITO or AITO Specialist Travel Agents, or for high-res photos, please contact Sue Ockwell or Jackie Franklin on 020 8891 4440 or email or