A new email and text message service to provide help to holidaymakers who get into difficulties abroad was launched today.

Entitled Travel Buddy, the service will also give tourists information about their destination in a scheme funded by the Foreign Office.

Launched today by travel organisation Abta at its annual convention in Barcelona, the initiative is free to Abta members and to holidaymakers.

Travel Buddy monitors all destinations. In an emergency Abta and the Foreign Office will send out text messages to all travellers in the affected destination.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "This will provide our members with exemplary customer service, particularly at times of emergencies when fast and effective information is needed. Mobile phones are now used by nearly everyone when they travel."