‘Writing on the wall’ for traditional agents, claims accountancy firm

The writing is on the wall for traditional travel agents due to a new generation of online firms, it is claimed today.

Some 53 travel agents and tour operators went into administration last year, compared to 39 in 2011, figures compiled by the accountants Wilkins Kennedy show.

Casualties last year included the Northampton-based chain Bowen Travel Group, which had 38 branches.

“The writing’s been on the wall for some time, now the internet is really taking over,” Anthony Cork of Wilkins Kennedy told the Daily Telegraph.

“Online portals give people the option to plan and book each aspect of their holidays themselves, leaving the services of travel agents redundant,” he said.

“People book independently, especially for European holidays where they can use budget airlines and there is a wide range of affordable accommodation options.”

To exacerbate problems, long-haul travel from Britain, in which travel agents retain a great role, was flat last year, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics. Even that business faces long-term problems, said Cork.

“As the tourist infrastructure in many exotic destinations becomes more sophisticated, it will be harder and harder for tour operators to convince consumers that their package holidays offer a good deal,” he warned.

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