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Comment: Coming weeks are crucial to travel trade – 14 May 2007

With the national press constantly telling us otherwise, it is easy to forget just how successful the travel industry is. If we believe everything we read in the papers, packagSarah Longbottom, Travel Weekly editore holidays are available for only £5 and the carbon footprint means flying is becoming untenable.

Few would deny that the travel industry faces challenging times. Thomas Cook and My Travel will merge next Tuesday and staff will learn of their place in the new company. TUI and First Choice will take further steps at the end of this month towards their merger in October. The air of uncertainty for all staff involved must be very unsettling.

Next few weeks are key

The next few weeks will determine whether this summer will be good or bad for the trade. This time last year was a particularly difficult trading time for travel, thanks to the World Cup. We can therefore assume that bookings will be up year on year. The key question though, is whether they will be in line with capacity.

But there is a lot to look forward to and what the papers and often those immersed in the industry fail to point out, is that more people go on holiday each year. Up to 20 million UK consumers will take a package holiday abroad this year. The great British public would rather forgo buying a new car than give up their annual holiday, while travel is the third most popular subject researched on the Internet.

The trade must take full advantage. Any independents who feel threatened by the current changes should remember one word: service. A professional will save a client time and money and, importantly, create customer loyalty. In a world of increasing choice, the agent who offers the most appropriate holiday at an appropriate price has a future.

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