Travel association Abta has hit back at reports that high-street agents are among the worst-hit sectors on the high street.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “It’s nonsense to assert the high street is dead.”
A joint PwC/Local Data Company survey published yesterday reported UK retailers shut an average 20 stores a day last year.
Management Today picked up on a line in the report suggesting travel agents were among the worst-hit sectors, although agents did not feature in the top-seven areas of business hardest hit by closures listed by PwC.
However, Abta said its members have seen outlets close at a combined rate of no more than “about 4%” over the past three years.
Tanzer said: “The internet has opened new research and booking options for customers, and, alongside the challenges of the worst recession in living memory, that has undoubtedly put pressure on high-street retail outlets.
“There has also been consolidation in the industry. Abta estimates that in the last three years, offices with an Abta number have reduced from 5,215 to 4,991 – a decline of about 4%.
“Clearly, there are still a very large number of travel businesses operating successfully on the high street. In addition, many agents have adapted their business models, offering online and high-street channels.”
Tanzer added: “Our consumer trends research shows people value the help of a human being and the reassurance of booking a holiday face to face.
“The key for travel businesses is to make sure that they have options and expertise available to support customers however they like to book – whether online, on the phone or in person.”
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