The leading Latin America tourism body has issued a ‘call to arms’ to tour operators and tourism boards after research found agents were least confident selling Latin America than any other region and thought it was the hardest place to earn commission.

The Latin American Travel Association (Lata) published its Travel Trends Report 2017 at B2B show Experience Latin America, after canvassing 254 travel agents and 40 tour operators, most of whom are Latin America specialists.

The research revealed less than a quarter of the operators’ bookings came via an agent, with 76% booked direct. Among agents surveyed, more than half (52%) said ‘better knowledge, training [and] fam trips’ were the main factor that would help them sell more Latin America holidays.

Lata executive manager Megan Greaves said: “This shows what a huge untapped market there is for travel agents, where we can grow and promote the region.

“Fam trips and training – these are what [agents] are looking for. This is a call to arms for everyone to come together with Lata to help the trade understand more about Latin America.”

The research also found 62% of operators had seen a rise in bookings in 2016 compared with 2015, with Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina and Peru showing the biggest growth, while numbers for Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico fell. Wildlife and nature was the biggest draw, followed by culture and heritage, and luxury travel, while the greatest deterrents to booking travel were the cost of trips, distance, and concerns over Zika.