Recession-struck Brits who shun international destinations will not necessarily opt for holidays and short breaks in the UK and Ireland instead, new research from TNS Travel and Tourism has found.

The survey of 2,000 people, released for Travel Weekly during British Tourism Week, suggests 38% of Brits are not planning to go on holiday at all in 2009.

Brits are also scaling down the number of holidays they plan to take. In January, 38% of people planning a holiday in 2009 said they would cut back to just one. During the intervening two months, that figure has increased to 50%.

Even when Brits do opt for a UK holiday, 36% prefer to book directly with airlines/accommodation providers 31% book online one in 12 book with a tour operator and just 16% use a retail travel agent.

TNS head of travel and tourism Tom Costley said: “Unfortunately there is no evidence that people are choosing to stay in Britain rather than overseas. And even if they did, their use of travel agents as a preferred booking channel appears to be questionable.”

To increase their share of the domestic tourism market, agents need to offer better deals and let customers know the booking process is simple and hassle free, consumers told researchers. A minority also said agents need to become more proactive in selling by promoting UK holidays in their windows and by positioning themselves as UK holiday specialists.

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