Agents should do more to drive UK tourism after it was revealed that the proportion of domestic bookings they account for is just 4%.
The most recent VisitBritain research revealed the limited share both online and high-street travel agencies have of the market. It found that 45% of respondents who went on a domestic break in 2007 did not make a firm booking before their trip – suggesting a potential growth area for agents.
ABTA head of business development and consumer affairs Keith Richards said although he believed the proportion of sales through agents was higher than 4%, he admitted sales of domestic product through UK agents have diminished.
Richards said agents should seek to reverse the trend, and he has taken a seat on the board organising British Tourism Week to help drive sales through the association’s members.
“Domestic tourism is a part of the market and therefore we have to ensure the companies we represent are benefiting from that,” said Richards.
“Certainly [with the weakened pound discouraging consumers from travelling overseas] our members will be looking for other options to sell and we must help them.”
He added this is why ABTA continues to run its own UK tourism group. Agents interested in increasing their share of the market can ask ABTA for information and trading promotions to get started.
VisitBritain head of government and public affairs Bernard Donoghue agreed agents could help themselves to a larger slice of the market, despite consumers booking
domestic breaks increasingly late.
“We still think travel agents have a really important role to play. They can add value thanks to their knowledge about the product and they can actively sell it, which is why we work very closely with ABTA,” he said.
UK visitors, 2007
The UK received 32.8 million visitors in 2007. The top five markets were:
- The US 3.6 million
- Germany 3.4 million
- France 3.3 million
- Republic of Ireland 3 million
- Spain 2.2 million
Source: National Statistics
Most-visited UK towns and cities, 2007
- London 10.1 million (-7%)
- Manchester 2.3 million (-6%)
- Birmingham 2.2 million (0%)
- Blackpool 1.9 million (+5%)
- Bristol 1.6 million (-15%)
- Scarborough 1.5 million (+8%)
- Leeds 1.4 million (-2%)
- York 1.2 million (-4%)
- Sheffield 1.1 million (+21%)
- Newcastle upon Tyne 1 million (-16%)
Source: UKinbound. Figures compared with 2006 results and based on visits by UK residents
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