The Association of Independent Tour Operators has seen 10 new member join in the last six months, bringing the total number of members to 146.

AITO chairman Derek Moore said the financial protection the association offers is the core reason for the growth in membership as the economy increasingly tightens.

He added the new members have also been keen to cash in on the quality associated by the consumer with the AITO brand.

Moore said: “Because of a holiday’s importance to the household, people are becoming more cautious about where and how they book as they are fearful of losing their money.

“Some people consider that travelling with a tour operator is a quaint idea in this internet age but booking with an AITO member ensures travellers full financial protection and expert back-up should any problems arise.

“With recent high-profile airline collapses fresh in the mind, it’s not surprising that travellers want to use a reputable tour operator which provides a comfort blanket and which will shoulder the cost of any last-minute changes due to suppliers going out of business.”

The 10 new members which have joined AITO since the start of the year are: Bales Worldwide, Cadogan Holidays, Collett’s Mountain Holidays, Discover Adventure, Distinctive Americas, Fleewinter, ITC Classics, Silk Road & Beyond, Wendy Wu Tours and Wild Frontiers Adventure Travel.