We report two heartening pieces of news for agents this week. One comes from Tui chief executive Fritz Joussen who spoke at a Travel Weekly dinner and declared the group’s UK shops “in a very strong position to go forward”.
Joussen emphasised his belief in the future of the package holiday and Tui’s integrated model while encouraging independent agents by recognising “a risk of being too direct”.
He gave a fascinating account of the process leading to the merger of Tui Travel and its major shareholder to form the group at the end of 2014 – but judge for yourself.
A second comes from an exclusive Travel Weekly analysis of official figures showing a 12% year-on-year rise in travel agent and tour operator turnover in 2015, a 15% increase in agency staff, compared with 2013, and a rise in the number of agencies to more than 4,000.
These figures defy the prophets of doom who have been proclaiming the travel agent ‘dead’ for a decade and a half.
Less-heartening news came from the currency markets where the pound fell to a seven-year low against the dollar amid uncertainty about Britain’s future in the European Union, and with the failure of small Turkey specialist Elixir Holidays – the latter a reminder of the danger of focusing on a single destination.
The EU Referendum on June 23 promises several months of uncertainty.
Yet agents can take heart not only from the generally healthy state of bookings for summer 2016, but also from the Post Office Holiday Money Report showing price falls in European resorts mean UK holiday favourites remain cheaper than a year ago, despite sterling’s weakness.
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