Younger people are increasingly turning to travel agents to book holidays because of the confusion and problems seen during the pandemic, according to the WTM Industry Report.
Its survey of 1,000 consumers found 22% of those aged 35-44 said they were more likely to use an agent, along with 21% of those aged 22-24 and 20% of those aged 18 to 21.
Respected travel journalist Simon Calder presented these and many other positive findings from WTM’s Industry Report on the first day of the event.
The report also found that holidaymakers are four times as likely to book a package than a sharing-economy stay for next year.
Almost a third (32%) of those thinking about an overseas holiday in 2022 are most likely to book a package holiday, compared to 8% who will book through a sharing economy site, such as Airbnb.
Calder told delegates: “I am getting complaints every day from people who have put together a trip themselves or by using one of the less well-regarded online travel agencies.
“Using a package company is better and using a live travel agent means they will not leave you stranded. All the confusion is pushing people towards using travel agents.”
When consumers were asked about where they would like to go, the top hotspot was Spain, followed by other traditional European favourites such as France, Italy and Greece, and the US – which will reopen to British holidaymakers on November 8 after being off limits since March 2020.
The report also revealed that most of the 700 trade professionals quizzed for the report are expecting 2022 sales to match or beat 2019.
Furthermore, nearly 60% of travel executives believe sustainability has become the industry’s top priority.
Calder also held a panel discussion to debate issues raised by the research.
John Strickland, WTM’s aviation expert, said low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and Wizz Air were seeing better traffic figures but airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, which rely on long-haul and transatlantic routes, were taking longer to recover.
He cited a forecast from IATA which said traffic will not be back to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
Also, he does not think business travel will bounce back in the way that the markets have done so for leisure and visiting friends and relatives.
However, Tracey Halliwell, Director of Tourism, Conventions & Major Events at London & Partners, said there is a “strong” pipeline for business tourism and major events in the capital.
“I am eternally optimistic that London will return to its exalted status,” she said.
Leisure travel will outweigh any shortfall in business tourism because there will be more “bleisure”, which will see people adding holiday elements to their work trips, added Halliwell.
Harold Goodwin, WTM’s responsible tourism expert, said the aviation sector will need to be regulated, unless it cuts its own carbon footprint, he warned.
As other sectors decarbonise, global aviation will become a larger proportion of emissions, rising to about 24% by 2050 if current trends continue.