Bookings are up at local travel agencies, and new agencies are opening to meet the demand.

Travel agents say the boom is due partly to do-it-yourself travel planners growing weary of trying to negotiate the increasingly complex Internet.

"Unforgiving" is how travel agents describe the experience of booking on the Web for the occasional leisure traveler. When things go wrong, there's the less-than-comforting prospect of a toll-free number for remediation.

"It's very hard after you've booked online to go back and yell at someone," said Cheryl Hudak, vice president of the American Society of Travel Agents in Virginia.

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