The travel industry is changing at such a rate that it is easy to view much of what’s happening in a negative light.

Yet two pieces of research in this issue suggest there is cause for optimism, despite unwelcome news of job cuts recently.

The first study suggests the number of people employed by travel agencies increased last year for the first time since the start of the global financial crisis in 2008.

An analysis of official figures, which takes account of Thomas Cook’s job cuts, shows only a slight decline in the number of travel agent employees over the period, suggesting reductions in the number of high street staff are being offset elsewhere.

When improving tour operator figures are taken into account, the number working in the trade is revealed to have changed even less than might be expected.

The other good news, on consumer perceptions of Thomas Cook, comes from exclusive research for Travel Weekly.

The company is one of the biggest names in travel so it is inevitable that damaging reports about its financial position and share price last year led to wider questions about the health of the sector as a whole.

However, a study by Explore Research found consumers largely untroubled and a remarkable number likely to ‘engage’ with Thomas Cook this year regardless of whether or not they book a holiday.

The results should be cause for cheer beyond the company’s immediate ranks since the industry as a whole needs strong, high-profile brands. Together, these studies provide heartening reading as we enter the second quarter of 2013.