Aito members have voted against taking action over the proposed retail merger between Thomas Cook and The Co-operative Travel.

Despite the move – which will see more than 300 Co-op shops fall under the umbrella of the multiple – members decided not to make a representation to the Office of Fair Trading which is now reviewing the deal.

Some independent operators had previously voiced their concerns that the merger would mean more directional selling in the Co-op retail shops.

However, speaking at the Aito Conference in Brussels this weekend, chairman Derek Moore said: “There was really no appetite for action from Aito members.

“If the merger means more directional selling, then that means more opportunity for Aito members to push their independence. They can focus on what clients want and do not want.”

Moore said he was not surprised by the members’ reaction. “It might have been different a few years ago but now we have the closer ties arrangement to get operators and agents working together more closely and we have seen the success of that, I am less surprised,” Moore said.

Moore added Aito members could see a number of opportunities in 2011, providing they are prepared to capitalise on them.

He said the fact that as many as half of all British consumers did not take a holiday this year means many of them will be looking for a holiday next year.

The association’s guarantee of 100% financial protection for consumers remains a key selling point in an uncertain market, he added.

Moore added the trade should also ensure the public is made aware of the government’s increase of Air Passenger Duty.

He said: “Next year could be a chance not just to survive but to thrive.”