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Newsletter 16: January 2011

Editor: Doug Chapman

From our Chairman

Paul Cresswell

Hello to everyone and may I take the opportunity of wishing all members a Happy New Year.

I think it is going to be an interesting and difficult year for all of us; whether still involved in the Travel Trade or trying to get by on pensions as prices are going through the roof and savings rates are going the other way! We can only hope that our political masters know what they are doing and we come out of the next few years with a brighter future.

We had an excellent attendance at the Christmas Dinner once again this year and it was nice to see so many members and partners, some of whom had come from far afield and as we were in the middle of a terrible weather pattern, we must congratulate them on making the effort. Once again we will be having a spring break, which Roger has just announced will be in the Second City (that's Birmingham to those who are south of the M25) and I look forward to meeting as many members who can make it to what is always a great day out.

The early start to the travel year has, I understand, been a bit patchy. However, you never get the true position as the spin doctors are at work, but there are lots of issues for the hierarchy at ABTA to get stuck into, so we can only wish them well and let them get on with it.

Once again I look forward to seeing you for our Spring Break and let's hope that things brighten up on all fronts.

The People Place

Our warmest thoughts and wishes are with Claude and Deidre Mistely as they battle her severe illness.

The Eleventh AGM

The Chairman welcomed thirty two members to the Eleventh Annual General Meeting in the Senate room of the Imperial Hotel on Russell Square. A greater turnout than last year and an excellent proportion of the membership, which at sixty four members, had risen by seven people this year. All pointing to a continuing, vibrant organisation.

Minutes of the meeting will set out the detailed discussion points, but there were some lively moments showing the strong feelings that members feel for the association's affairs.

Claude Mistely had indicated that he would have to resign as Honorary Secretary to focus upon caring for his wife. The Chairman paid warm tribute to Claude for his tremendous support and expertise in the role. Mary Cooke volunteered to take over the position and she was elected unanimously.

The Chairman, together with other Officers and Executive Committee Members were prepared to continue and were duly re-elected.

John McEwan, ABTA Chairman, joined the meeting to give a stimulating and absorbing review of topical issues facing ABTA Members. He highlighted the 60`h Anniversary of the founding of ABTA in 2010. One key function of the Association has always been to respond to major catastrophes to help mitigate effects on members and their customers. The recent cloud volcanic ash over the British Isles, which had devastated air services, was a prime example.

Future economic conditions, in particular projections of disposable income for 2011, were very uncertain, but people now placed a high importance on travel in their spending decisions. As an Association, ABTA is very resilient and, in particular, membership amongst cruise lines is increasing.

A core ABTA focus is on sustainable tourism and is working with hotels and other stakeholders in travel to meet environmental and community needs. Key activities include the reviews of the Package Travel Directive and Denied Boarding Regulations being undertaken by the EU; whilst UK Government related issues include air transportation policy and taxes and consumer protection.

A final discussion was around minimising the costs of the AGM and Reunion Lunch in 2011, as well as member's travel costs in peak periods. Central London continued to best suit the majority of members and the Executive Committee would review options, likely to be for an afternoon meeting and meal at the same location.

Annual Reunion Lunch

From continental cuisine the previous year, Roger brought us back to sound English fare with a hearty lunch in Porters of Covent Garden. Porters has been delivering homemade English cooking for thirty years - just half the time that ABTA has been around - but long enough to be a well recognised part of the Covent Garden culinary establishment.

We were lead to a large private room in the basement, temporarily loosing some members to the temptations of the bar by the entrance. Nevertheless, all thirty eight members and guests quite quickly assembled for the Chairman's warm welcome. He later presented ABTA badges to the new members present.

The menu on offer to our party gave an ample range of choice, including a "peasouper" replica of London fog; a gourmet sausage for the connoisseur (wild boar and sage) and a wickedly delicious steamed syrup sponge. With three or four alternatives for each course, there was pretty much something for every taste leaving each person free to relax and relish the excellent food, wine and camaraderie.

In fact, the reaction from everyone was so positive that we will return to Porters in 2011.

And would you believe the amount of mud that is flung at Executive Committee Meetings.

Most of it stuck to just two of us

Christmas Lunch at Oxford 2010

Another great success and now a warm memory for everybody who was able to attend. In spite of severe snow storms in previous weeks, attendance still reached the previous year's record number. Nothing could illustrate better the anticipation this event generates and 2010 continued to delight.

The seasonal menu offered an excellent choice of delectable dishes and with wine included in the price, it is really excellent value.

Travel Insurance

Some concerns expressed at the Executive Committee about the availability and cost of travel insurance for the Over 70s prompts this request to everybody to let us have any recommendations or suggestions that you feel will be helpful to others. They will be published in the summer edition. Contributions by email to the Editor please.

In fact, if you have any other suggestions about issues on which the experience and expertise of our members may be usefully shared in these columns, please do not hesitate to put them forward.

Dates for your 2011 Diary

You will just have heard from Roger Lambert about the Spring Event; now arranged for Wednesday 4th May with a canal trip and buffet lunch around Birmingham. It will last from 12 noon to 3pm. It should be a fascinating day. The extensive canal system was a core element in the industrial growth of the area and has now been attractively incorporated into the regenerated heart of the city. Please do let Roger know you would like to attend as soon as possible.

Should anyone wish to stay on to sample a little of Birmingham's extensive retail therapy, don't forget our special member's rates with Superbreak. For example, one night for two people with breakfast at the centrally situated Birmingham Thistle Hotel on 4th May currently costs from £31.60 per person.

The AGM will be on Wednesday 5th October in a private room at Porters Restaurant, 17 Henrietta Street, London WC2E 8QH. This will be followed by the Annual Reunion Lunch at the same location. It is planned to start the meeting at 12 30pm with lunch at 2 pm. This is somewhat later than previously to enable members to take advantage of cheaper off peak rail fares into London.

The Christmas Festive Lunch will again be at the Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel at Sandford on Thames on Tuesday 13th December at 12 30pm for lunch at 1 15pm. Roger will be circulating final details of each of these events closer to the time.

New Members

Finally, please do remember to let Richard English have details of anybody you think might be interested and eligible to join us for all these activities in the Old Abtarians .

Pictures are better than words

Annual Reunion Lunch - Excellent food, wine and camaraderie

The Christmas Festive Lunch