Tour operators feeling the pinch in the international markets should consider using domestic sales to keep their businesses ticking over.

Speaking at the Association of Independent Tour Operators conference in Marrakesh this weekend VisitBritain head of brands and 2012 marketing Seren Welch said the effects of the credit crunch and its fallout have left people feeling more battered than in previous crises.

She added: “This is a personal crisis that people are feeling, we’ve lived through crises and downturns in the past but they haven’t felt the personal effect (before).”

Citing the value of tourism in the UK as £85.6 billion annually, of which 55% is generated by Brits, Welch said there was a lucrative market AITO operators should consider exploiting.

While the 55-plus market remains the most resilient in the domestic tourism sector, she added operators would have to tap in to the every growing trend for experience based trips.

Welch said: “Creative tourism is really on the up it is that self-improvement (element) about learning something new.”

While around a fifth of the conference delegates said they offered domestic breaks, Welch said many AITO specialists offered product which could be translated into the domestic market while Britain is around 25% cheaper to holiday in than previously.