A WEEKEND conference which holds the key to future success in Wiltshire’s tourism trade starts in Swindon today.

Delegates of The Group Travel Organisers Association (GTOA) are meeting at the Hilton Hotel for the Annual Showcase Exhibition and AGM Weekend which takes place in a different county every year.

Among the GTOA’s aims and objectives, it tries to negotiate various travel and leisure-related services for the benefit of all GTOA members and the organisations they represent.

Every one of the delegates from the GTOA visiting the county this weekend will assess each of the sites they visit and report recommendations on where they should book trips and spend money in future.

Visit Wiltshire, the county’s tourism body, secured the GTOA conference for the first time in the county’s history with a bid last year, which contested and won against several other regions for the honour.

David Andrews, Visit Wiltshire’s chief executive, said: “A lot of group travel trade business is longer term.

“In some cases they will be looking at 2014.

“Many of the 2015 programmes will not be arranged yet, so this is our opportunity to impress and get them to book with us in the future.

“It’s so important for us to show them new sites.

“The more impressed they are with new sites, the more likely they are to go to their customers and suggest they visit.”

Across the weekend there will be five familiarisation visits for delegates.

Sites include Royal Wootton Bassett, Lydiard House and Park, the MacArthur Glen Designer Outlet and the Steam railway museum.