Travel agents who can tap into a loyal customer base and add value to domestic bookings will always have an important role, according to VisitBritain executive chairman Christopher Rodrigues.

Despite the increasing role of the web, particularly in domestic holiday bookings, Rodrigues said “great” agents would continue to add value to domestic bookings because of their links with the local community and product expertise.

Only 4% of domestic holidays were sold by travel agents in 2007, according to a recent VisitBritain survey.

Speaking on the first day of British Tourism Week, he said: “In an increasingly internet world, agents have to add value and great agents will always have a role to play because they have loyal customers who appreciate their knowledge, and that’s what customers want.”

Agents can add value by helping customers decide where to go and what to do, he added.

VisitBritain is working hard to capitalise on the fact the destination is cheaper this year for certain overseas markets as well as UK holidaymakers because of currency fluctuations, he said.

He said: “We have been seen as a relatively expensive destination for several years and we are now relatively cheap – we have to keep saying that until we are blue in the face.

“Our goal is to increase domestic volumes and win share of the international [incoming] market, which I think will be down [because of the global recession].”

Price promotions, tied into airline deals, were proving the best way to drive sales inbound sales from overseas markets, he added.

Rodrigues said it was “too early” to predict how many people would visit Britain this year compared to previous years.