ABTA chairman hits out at negative TV travel coverage

The chairman of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has hit out at recent UK television programs that focus on negative aspects of the travel industry.

John McEwan, the chairman of the travel operators’ organisation, has said that he will initiate an investigation into how the travel industry can influence, what he described as, more accurate and informative holiday-based television programs.

The chairman’s comments came in the wake of television’s latest holiday angst program, Holiday Hit Squad, a series that is being screened weekly by the BBC. The program covers a range of undesirable holiday features, from hotels that are cockroach infested, grubby or downright dangerous, to the difficulties faced by individual tourists who lose their travel documentation or have it stolen, and plenty of other scenarios that can ruin even the best planned vacation.

One of the program’s co-hosts is former newsreader Angela Rippon, who portrays the antithesis of Judith Chalmers’ far more effusive and enthusiastic attitude towards all things vacation when she presented ITV’s long running holiday offering, Wish You Were Here…?. That program, which ran from 1974 until 2003, along with the BBC’s equally positive series, Holiday, were both cited by McEwan as having had content that was more representative of the ‘fantastic experience’ that the vast majority of holidaymakers enjoy, than the current crop of cautionary tales. He described these past broadcasts as ‘compelling viewing’ that provided useful tips from travel experts.

He said, ‘The beauty of Wish You Were Here..? was you had a reporter looking from the inside out; it was a bit like having your own informed travel agent giving you advice. The question is whether as an industry we can be more proactive in making our own programmes or lobby to bring back the likes of Judith Chalmers. We need to do more than reality shows on Benidorm.’