Travel agents should tap into social networking sites to uncover potential new markets, said Rohit Talwar, chief executive of market research firm Fast Future.

Sustainable tourism and health tourism are examples of two niche markets for which there is an increasing demand.

“A growing number of people are interested in the environment and will choose to travel with providers that have a sustainable approach to tourism,” said Talwar.

This will extend to all sectors of the travel industry – from choosing an airline that allows passengers to offset carbon dioxide emissions from a flight, to selecting a hotel based on its green credentials.

Another niche to watch is health tourism. Talwar says an increasing number of destinations, such as Thailand, are now marketing themselves as ‘health’ retreats.

The senior market is another area where agents could boost sales. Between 65% and 85% of the world’s wealth belongs to the over-65s. Of that wealth, 70% is in the hands of women. If you’re serving this market, then you would be wise to find out which hotels and other travel suppliers offer the best facilities for older people.