Booking a holiday used to involve trudging down to your local high street on a wet Saturday afternoon and spending hours with a travel agent planning your trip - and paying a premium for the pleasure. But, with more people now using the Internet to book tailor-made breaks from the comfort of their own home, the role of the high-street travel agent appears to be under threat.
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Younger generations have been taking advantage of competitive prices online for years, but as older people become increasingly techno-savvy and start to shy away from the high street, the travel industry appears to be making itself ever more Web-oriented.

According to The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) Travel Statistics and Trends 2005 report, some 44 per cent of the adult population used the Internet to find information about travel and accommodation last year, and 53 per cent are likely to book a holiday on the Web over the next two years.

The study also quotes research from Mintel, which predicts that the Internet will become the top medium for booking holidays, as well as researching them, once problems such as online security and after-sales customer service are addressed.

So where does this leave the traditional high-street travel agent? A spokeswoman for First Choice comments: "Different customers have different needs - some do research on the Internet, but want the security of booking through a travel agent, particularly for a higher purchase or more complicated holiday booking. Others will research and book online, while some will only use a travel agent.

"We believe our website and retail network complement one another, and both have roles to play - now and in the future."

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