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The support groups in the travel business

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Meaning of a travel business or agency
A travel agency or business can be defined as a private retailer or an entity that provides services to the public in the tourism sector on behalf of other providers such as airlines, hotels, travel insurance companies, tour companies and may make travel arrangements for travelers.

The travel business cannot stand alone without other support groups complimenting what travel businessmen do. Some of these support groups include banks, insurance companies, transport companies, hotels, hospitals etc. Some of these support groups in the tourism industry are discussed below.

Financial support
One important support group in the tourism sector is the financial services support group. Investors in the industry who do not have capital of their own, must of necessity go for facilities from the banks before they invest. Owners of businesses in the industry who would like to protect their investment must go to insurance companies and sign up with policies that would protect their businesses in times of accidents such as fire, burglary or other forms of disasters. Tourists who come in with convertible currencies need places to exchange them for local currencies; this is where the bureau de change comes in. The bureau de change is key player in the tourism sector and it forms part of the support group.

Transport facilities
Another important support group is the ones that provide transport facilities. This is where transport operators come in. Tourists need to move from one destination to the other, sometimes very fast and at short notice. The service providers in this category are the airlines, the cruise ships, the bus operators, train companies, and car hiring companies. Transport is one of the greasing agents of the tourism industry.

Hotel, De Vile, Le Havre, France 
Accommodation and food
When tourists enter a place and need to stay for some days or just overnight, they need a place to lay their head. Apart from that they need food to eat. A tour operator or carnival organizer may not have to necessarily provide accommodation and food for the tourist though that is possible. The support group that takes care of this includes the hotels, hostels, Bread & Breakfast facilities, and restaurants, etc.

Souvenir shops
Local crafts are very important in the tourism industry. This is because, when tourist come, they want something to take back home to show that they have been to a particular place. Souvenir shops are stocked with paraphernalia advertising the tourist destination. It could be a dress, a wood carving, a local drum, a fabric, a key-holder or a pair of sandals. Tourist can decide to buy any of these items which they send back home. Some souvenir shops are attached to hotels or airports while others can be found dotted in the city centres.

Health services
Health services support group is also very important in the tourism industry. The health of an individual is very crucial. A traveller can suddenly fall sick and must receive medical attention. Any tourist on a tour journey can develop a problem with the tommy and need a first aid. The health of such people cannot be left to chance. This is why hospitals, clinics, and other levels of health facilities are important. It is also important that there is first aid available at all times to cater for the health needs of the tourists.

Security services
Safety is another important area in tourism. A tourist may be at a particular place for the first time in his or her life. He or she may need help when he or she gets lost. Tourists are also targets for thieves and armed robbers so they need to be protected from such unscrupulous elements in the host country. Some high value tourists could also be kidnapped and ransoms demanded and therefore need to be protected. In the wake of terrorist attacks on tourist destinations frequented by some categories of travellers, especially Europeans and Americans, there is the need for the security agencies of the host country to be up and doing to protect life and property.

1. Highlight the roles of six support groups in travel business

Tourist attractions and their locations
The qualities of a good travelling agent

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