UK's On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott said: "There has been a lot of focus on moving sales online, but I think the pendulum is going to swing back the other way."

TUI corporate director of strategy Thies Rheinsberg agreed and said in future agents are likely to be responsible for 50% of tour companies' sales and would retain that place in the future.

Rheinsberg said that percentage might be slightly lower in the UK than on the Continent because British holidaymakers are web-savvy and more accustomed to booking online.

A recent survey shows that Internet bookings in the UK have more than doubled to 31.6% between 2004 and 2006 and this is increasing fast.

Operators know online sales are increasing, however, agents will continue to be a sizeable sales force for them when it comes to package holidays.

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