Where the experts holiday: Ashley Gibbons, chief executive at The International Travel Writers Alliance

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Ashley Gibbons, chief executive at The International Travel Writers Alliance, talks travel

Ashley Gibbons

What do you like to do, when you go on holiday?
As professional travel writers much of my work and my wife’s, involves visiting places that others visit on vacation. We live on the edge of London’s Epping Forest and a ‘holiday’ for us will be relaxing walks through the woods, visiting local pubs and evenings dining in local restaurants.Very much what people do on holiday, but at home.

Where did you last go?
This year, our travels have taken us to Ahmedabad, India; Adelboden and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Swiss and German Alps respectively; the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia; Paris and a number in country house hotels in the UK. Invariably varied and par for the course.

Do you know where you will go this year?
For the rest of the year it is Tunisia, Malaysia and Florida.


Florida is a favourite destination for Ashley

Of all the places you’ve been to which is your favourite and why?
I think it has to be Florida. My first long haul trip was, like many travellers, to Orlando and the theme parks. It was an amazing experience and we have returned to ‘Disney’ a number of times for business and pleasure. However there is so much more to enjoy about Florida. The year round glorious weather, spectacular coastline, the Everglades, great dining and wonderful smaller destinations like Naples and Fort Myers.

Which destination do you wish to travel to but have not yet done so?

Ashley enjoys stay-cationing in Epping Forest

So many and so little time. I have been to the States dozens of time and still merely skimmed the surface. Would like to tour the ghost towns of the mid-west. I have also just started to explore Asia and so much to experience here. And there are any number of short haul European destinations. Particularly the smaller and emerging countries.

In your own country, what would you recommend people see that’s not in the guide books?
Like every destination, see the things that are not in the guide books and where you can really appreciate the culture and the characters. Saunter down side streets, sit in sidewalk cafes and visit the bars and restaurants that the locals visit. It’s always people that make places and getting to know the locals can be so rewarding.

How do you plan your holiday?
We plan our trips 18 months in advance to ensure everything runs smoothly (which it rarely does). We work closely with the tourist associations of the destinations on the list.

How often do you go away?
We will travel long haul about four or five times a year and short haul about a dozen.

Who do you go with?
My wife, and business partner, Ann and I will usually travel on assignments together, which makes trips more productive and enjoyable. It also gives us someone to share the excitement and exhilaration of travelling with.

VisitBritain has big plans


Where do you see tourism in your country in 10 years?
The UK is a wonderful country with so much to offer. London is perhaps the most vibrant and dynamic city on earth and beyond the capital there is so much to be enjoyed in a relatively small island.VisitBritain, the UK’s national tourism agency, has just launched its strategy for inbound tourism to Britain to 2020. The aim is to be attracting 40 million visitors by 2020, a three per cent year on year increase. The strategy, called Britain’s golden legacy, looks to build on the showcasing of Britain around the world during the London 2012 Games, sets out four key elements:

Enhancing Britain’s image: by playing to Britain’s strengths – heritage, traditional and contemporary culture – and addressing perceived weaknesses such as natural beauty, food, value and welcome

Ensuring Britain is on the shelf: by working with the travel trade in key markets to ensure Britain is packaged and sold

Building on Britain’s strong product: by looking to ensure that destinations can be easily packaged and that Britain continues to meet the expectations of new visitors from growth markets

Making it easier to get to the UK: by addressing barriers to growth such as aviation capacity and the visa regime

If everyone involved in the UK’s travel, transport and tourism industries can work together to these objectives, tourism will be in fine way in 10 years time

About Ashley
Ashley is chief executive of the International Travel Writers Alliance, which is the world’s largest association of professional travel journalists. He is also managing editor of AllWays traveller, the consumer travel features and incentives service from the Alliance, which provides independent travellers with an equally independent view of the world.


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