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Last year saw the second-highest annual increase in combined travel agency and tour operator turnover since 2008, according to an analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures by Travolution.
The 12% year on year increase means the figure has now been rising for six years in a row with last year's total hitting nearly £32 billion.
The ONS data also revealed that the actual number of travel agencies increased above the 4,000 mark in 2015 and that they will recover to near pre-recession levels in the UK in the coming year.
There were 66,224 agents operating in the UK last year and the expectations are that this number will increase to 68,514 in 2016, almost matching the 69,471 recorded in 2008. This stands in contrast to 59,289 recorded in 2013 which was a nine year low.
Head of public affairs at the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), Stephen D’Alfonso, said: “These figures are great news for agents and operators, and illustrate the important role they play in growing employment and the economy.
“They follow last week’s ONS stats that revealed a 10% rise in overseas visits from the UK in the last three months of 2015, following similar rises during the rest of last year. All these factors are a clear indication that consumer confidence is strong.”
With overall figures for the industry showing that the travel sector employed 504,006 people through 16,452 companies in the UK last year, there is considerable optimism in the trade.
This is further backed by the results of the Travolution Innovation Report 2016 which found a 12% increase in technology spending spearheaded by agents and operators in the UK travel sector in 2015.
Head of commercial at Advantage Travel Partnership, John Sullivan, commented: “This data reinforces the importance of technology as a driving force for change in our sector. And this is backed up by the fact that the number of agents is forecast to increase to pre-recession levels.”
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Date Created: 01/03/2016