colin stewart

Ahead of LATA Expo, LATA chairman, Colin Stewart, talks to Travel Bulletin

Colin Stewart, LATA chairman, speaks to Travel Bulletin, ahead of LATA Expo, which will be taking place between October 12 and 16.

Can you give an overview of how the pandemic has impacted the Latin American travel industry?

It has been very challenging. In 2019, travel and tourism in Latin America contributed $298.9bn USD to the economy, accounting for 8.1% of the GDP and 16.9 million jobs. During the months of April and May, the number of passenger arrivals into Latin America and the Caribbean dropped by 95%. The WTTC predicts that recovery to 2019 levels will not be achieved until 2025.These statistics put into context the challenges that lie ahead and how the reopening of borders is critical to enable travel and  tourism to restart, jobs to be saved and economies to reboot.  

What has LATA been doing to support its members?

At LATA, over the last few weeks, we have opened-up dialogue with other associations in the travel sector to discuss and debate recovery strategies following the changes in FCO advice. As ever, we continue to work collaboratively with our LATA members to share ideas and learnings to help pave the road to recovery. We have set up a number of regular virtual forums, webinar and discussions for different LATA member groups in order to provide them with the latest data and statistics from across the region while also sharing their messages via our Covid-19 recovery hub. 

Our charitable arm, the LATA Foundation, set up an emergency Covid-19 appeal to provide a rapid response for those most in need and each month, we are supporting an increased number of charities and grassroots organisations in Latin America. 

Also, from 12 to 16 October, we will celebrate , the largest B2B travel event in Europe focused on Latin America. 

What is LATA Expo?

The event focuses on pre-scheduled, one-to-one meetings between exhibitors and suppliers as well as the inclusion of keynote seminars and insight into important travel and consumer trends impacting Latin America. Topics will include ‘Planning in a Covid era’, ‘A View from the Top’ featuring a panel of industry leaders who will provide insight into the current climate and their hopes for the future, and ‘Future Gazing’; looking at travel trends and data provided by our research partner ForwardKeys. 

We appreciate that LATA Expo will not revive our industry overnight, however we hope that it is a step in the right direction in terms of creating dialogue between buyers and suppliers.

How does LATA work with travel agents?

At LATA, one of our main ambitions is to work more closely with travel agents. Over the last year, we have set up our online travel training platform for agents to give them a taste of the different Latin American destinations and we are very pleased with the level of engagement. Down the line, we are also looking at establishing LATA agent membership and focusing on how we can better equip agents with the tools they need to sell Latin America. We know that whilst some destinations and hotel groups in the area have strong UK representation, there are still large parts of the continent that are relatively unknown amongst agents. We are confident that as the region and the travel industry bounces back, we will strengthen our relationship with agents to build awareness and support sales.

For more information on LATA Expo, visit www.lataexpo.travel 

For more information on the Latin American Travel Association (LATA), visit www.lata.travel or contact LATAPR@wearelotus.co.uk


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