The BBC programme Holiday Hit Squad has come under fire from travel agents for being wishy washy, patronising and painting a negative and unbalanced view of the industry.
The four-part series, which focused on holidays that go wrong, was made by Twofour and presented by Angela Rippon, Helen Skelton and Joe Crowley.
Aired at peak viewing time on Wednesday evenings, it was commissioned by the BBC and was billed as combining "brilliant presenters, strong journalism and travel advice".
But travel agents have criticised the show for focusing on the problems experienced by holidaymakers who had booked direct and who were not properly insured.
They said the show failed to point out the benefits of booking with a reputable travel agent or operator.
"The programme suggested that travellers these days don't need travel agents and can book direct, but when one couple booked a hotel in Thailand based on the description on the accommodation supplier's website, they arrived and found it was a massive building site," said Norwich-based agent Peter Buckell.
"A traditional travel agent would probably have picked this up through gazeteers or a reputable accommodation supplier. There was no mention of that. The show is just wishy washy, it's certainly not professional.
"What's worse is that the 'reward' for the people booking blind was a free holiday by Holiday Hit Squad!"
Another agent, who asked not to be named, said show's presenter Angela Rippon was "patronising" while another said the show was a "disgrace".
Others said the programme deliberately selected badly rated hotels and inspected them, giving an unbalanced view of the industry.
Kieran Tobin, regional sales director for Destinations of the World, said he didn't understand the concept of the programme.
"Anyone in the business, particularly in purchasing or contracting, would know that none of the hotels featured would be contracted by an operator or a bed bank in the UK. I'm amazed they managed to find people from the UK who had stayed in them," he said.
"It makes a mockery of all the work the industry has done over the years to ensure the health and safety of hotels."
Some also complained that ABTA had not been more involved in the show to better represent the industry, but an ABTA spokesman said that the association had, in fact, worked closely with the programme makers.
"From the outset it was clear that it was the nature of the programme to find situations where people have had severe problems on their holidays. In our meetings we explained to the programme makers about the benefits of booking a package holiday and the work that agents and operators are doing to protect the health and safety of customers," said a spokesman.
"I think it's fair to say we would have been happier if they had painted a more positive picture of travel and give a more balanced view, but in many ways the show actually paints agents and operators in a good light because none of the bad holiday experiences featured were booked through an agent or tour operator."
Despite being contacted by TravelMole, neither the programme makers nor the BBC have given a response.
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Friday, February 22, 2013