Agents claim overall bookings are up despite the hike in fuel costs, says a survey from Amadeus.

They claim they have experienced an increase in travel bookings during the first six months of 2008, compared to first six months of 2007. Business agents saw the most dramatic rise, with 61% experiencing an increase in travel booking activity while over 45% of leisure agents also experienced an increase.

However, in the poll of 199 leisure and business agents, the majority – 85% of leisure agents and 51% of business agents – believe the cost of fuel is having an impact on demand for flights.

Just over half of agents (52%) felt the current economic conditions are having a moderate negative impact on traditional network carriers, and 24% felt that demand for first class travel was being severely affected.

However, 47% of leisure travel agents reported little or no change in demand for UK domestic flights, compared to European and transatlantic flights which are being moderately impacted. This view was reflected by business agents with 63% agreeing there had been little impact on demand for UK domestic flights. While 57% of them claimed demand for European flights was also unchanged.

Agents claim the result is that more people are travelling by rail. Of those surveyed, 40% of leisure agents and 58% of business agents said they had seen an increase in rail bookings – with the majority attributing this to the credit crunch.