Independent agents have called on Tui to “be fairer across the board” on pricing and deposits if it wants support selling its 2021 holidays.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Designer Travel owner Amanda Matthews said Tui was being “more proactive” towards third-party agents since the Covid-19 lockdown but said it could still do more to allow independents to properly compete.

She said:  “We can’t ordinarily support [Tui] very well because we cannot compete with their prices online, but because they have closed their shops, they seem to have taken a more proactive view on dealing with travel trade.

“At the minute we’re helping Tui with booking some of their holidays for 2021, but we need them to help us with deposits because those are just not comparable between their own website and ours.”

Matthews said the deposit she was required to request from customers was often more than twice what Tui itself was charging.

And she stressed: “At the moment, depending upon what they’re doing with their shops, if they do need help and support from independent travel agents, then they need to look across the board and be a bit fairer – not just with the prices but their deposits too.”

Miles Morgan, chairman of Miles Morgan Travel, agreed that Tui had been more “co-operative” with independent agents during the crisis.

“We always sell a reasonable amount of Tui, just from the geographical location and the flying they have, particularly from Bristol.

“But we have also found them actually quite co-operative of late, which is which is really encouraging. Because obviously, I think they freely admit themselves they have made a little bit of a mess of everything that’s gone on, and I think they’re trying to dig their way out of it.

“They’ve got to because they need to move on and, with the potential closure of more stores, which they also said they were going to do, then the independent agent has more opportunity.”

Matthews added: “There are opportunities at the moment because there’s no travel agencies open so there’s a lot of homeworkers who are self-employed out there that are open. There’s a lot of independent agents like Miles working from home. Equally there are lots and lots of furloughed staff and so that does provide us with a short-term opportunity.”