TWgroup editor Lucy HuxleyIt’s been a long time coming, but finally I’m able to write a column about a resurgence of the high street. Hallelujah!

It makes such a welcome change from depressing predictions that travel agents are dying off, unable to compete with the internet and consumers ‘doing it themselves’ more cheaply (change the record – please!).

As a trade paper, it could be easy to over-egg this one, and we’re not so naive as to think that those companies announcing plans to boost their bricks and mortar presence are not also developing other distribution channels.

But there’s no denying that all of them, from The Co-operative Travelto Kuoni, for whatever reason, are planning on investing large sums of money in the high street. Even more encouragingly, this seems to have gone hand in hand with a more general move back to the trade.

For a while, we’ve been writing more and more stories about direct-sell companies opening up elements of their programme to agency sales.

I also spotted several, such as USAirtours, at most of the independent agency consortia conferences over the last year – for the first time ever.

It was not alone. Ever since Thomson retrenched on its hard-line slashing of agents’ commission, realising it actually needed the trade more than it thought, the tide, ever so slowly, has started to turn.

As we still struggle to escape the grip of recession, few would have expected quite so many companies to be talking about opening shops. But there is a noticeable swing back to the high street and agents. Long may it continue.

  Is the high street back? Have your say on the travelhub forums