NYT: Are travel agents back? – Travel – Travel Tips – msnbc.com

According to those in the travel agent industry, clients like Ms. Griffin are not alone, and are in fact helping to stanch the bloodletting the industry has experienced since the onset of D.I.Y. booking more than a decade ago. Nearly one in three leisure agencies is hiring, according to PhoCusWright, a travel research firm. And in 2011 travel agencies experienced a second consecutive year of growth; their bookings account for a third of the $284 billion United States travel market.

This comes after years during which all signs seemed to be suggesting that travel agents would soon go the way of telex operators. And it’s true that the numbers are stark: During the industry’s peak years of the mid-1990s, there were about 34,000 retail locations booking trips. Today, there are 14,000 to 15,000, according to PhoCusWright. In 2009 alone, in the throes of the recession, bookings through traditional agencies plummeted by 23 percent.

Could it be? That Travel agents are coming back after years of decline?

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