Travel agents received a staunch defence against claims they could not survive at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Asia Summit in Seoul.
BBC presenter and summit moderator Nick Ross suggested repeatedly that agents were a thing of the past.
But Amadeus Asia-Pacific president David Brett (pictured) said: “A lot of people predicted the demise of agents when the internet came along, yet travel agents survived and improved what they do.
“We provide search tools and an enormous amount of information and we need people who are experts to deliver those servcies to customers.”
Deepak Ohri, chief executive of Bangkok-based luxury hotel group Lebua Hotels and Resorts agreed, saying: “So long as agents are conscious of travellers’ behaviour and deliver quality, they will survive.
“Those who do not survive will not have kept up.”
Economist Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics – a division of UK-based Oxford Economics – also agreed.
He said: “The travel agency model has evolved – it’s not as big as it was. But that does not mean the whole function has become obsolete.”
JTB Corp president and chief executive Hiromi Tagawa insisted he was confident agents would retain their place. JTB Corp is Japan’s largest travel agency.
Tagawa pointed out: “We just celebrated 100 years since our foundation.”
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