—In the UK, AITO—the Association of Independent Tour Operators—has announced a rebrand that will see its name change to The Specialist Travel Association. The acronym AITO will stay in place as the tagline changes. The association, which has 120 tour operator members, said the new name “better describes what our members do.” Executive director Kate Kenward said: “Times have changed and, over the years, so have AITO members. Specialist holidays and experiences are now members’ main focus and essentially form their stand-out offering in what is a very noisy and competitive travel landscape.”
—The holding company of the French father-and-son team (Jacky and Bruno Berrebi) that owns Time Tours and La Française des Circuits, recently completed the acquisition of 100 percent of the shares of Australia Tours, Terres de Charme, Red Carpet and Back Roads, which sells a substantial inventory of Visit USA adventure travel product. The new complex of businesses is valued at more than $135 million, according to published accounts, and had a turnover last year of around $46 million. ” This merger is the opportunity to establish purchasing synergies vis-à-vis suppliers but also consolidate the portfolio of destinations offered to our customers,” said Bruno Berrebi on Sept. 25 just after the official signing of the sale.
—Newmarket Holidays in Surrey, England, is slimming down following the sale of its education division to Next Generation Travel. The latter, based in Blackpool, now has a half-dozen education travel specialist brands. The company organizes school trips in the UK, Europe and throughout the world. Newmarket made the move to focus its core business of escorted touring holidays by air and river and ocean cruising business. It also sells USA product. Newmarket has apparently laid off some of its 200 employees. A Newmarket spokesman said: “The market is very competitive and demands that today’s modern travel business needs to be agile so that it can continue to adapt and flourish when opportunities present themselves in order to remain strong and successful.”