Travel agencies are failing to cash in on selling domestic breaks, exclusive research for Travel Weekly has revealed.

Interviews with more than 1,000 consumers suggested only 12% of the 25 million adults who took a holiday in the UK last year booked with an agent.

Six out of 10 travellers booked directly with the accommodation provider, while 8% booked directly with a tour operator. Of those without web access, one in five booked with a travel agent.

When asked why they did not use an agent, some said it was easier or cheaper to book direct. Others said there was no need to use a travel agent for the type of holiday they had chosen.

A quarter of the respondents suggested agents should promote UK holidays in their windows, and 23% said it would help if there were agents who specialised in domestic breaks. About the same number liked the idea of receiving UK holiday deals by e-mail.

Tom Costley, head of travel and tourism at TNS Travel and Tourism, which carried out the research, said: “These findings hint that even if agents promoted UK holidays, the short-term impact would probably be limited.

“Unless agents can produce some tangible benefit of booking with them, their peripheral role in the domestic holiday market is likely to continue.”

Peter Goord Travel proprietor Anthony Goord said: “UK breaks are something that we all try to do more of but, as with low-cost flights, [business] has gone to the Internet.”

Short-break operator Superbreak says it has seen business through agents increase this year – in September sales were up 14% on the same time last year.

Sales director Ian Mounser said: “We said over the last few years that around 10% of UK short breaks are booked through an agent.”

Mounser agreed with the survey that agents should promote the fact they offer short breaks in their window.

“Some people may think it is cheaper to book direct. But we offer the same price to agents as we do the public.”