A travel insurance boss was "shocked" to receive just seven replies to his survey of almost 2,000 travel agents seeking their views on General Insurance Standards Council compliance.

The survey, sent to 1,758 independent travel agents, was carried out in January, before GISC announced its membership would be voluntary.

Robert Smith, head of travel products at insurer Travel Insurance Services, said he was dismayed to receive so few responses.

"I was shocked by the small number of replies. I can only deduce that the travel industry is content to bury its head in the sand. But ultimately it will have to face the issue," he says.

Smith believes that GISC's decision to make its membership voluntary has had a critical effect on the attitude of travel agents.

He says: "Knowing the industry, travel agents are likely to wait until they are forced to join GISC while membership remains voluntary."

Stephen Howard, chairman of the Association of Travel Insurance Intermediaries' sub-committee on GISC, agreed that travel agents may have lost interest in GISC after it announced they would no longer be forced to join.

"There is a feeling among travel intermediaries that because membership of GISC is no longer compulsory it may only have a marginal effect on them," he says.

A spokeswoman for GISC said it has gone a long way in addressing travel agents' concerns over insurance regulation.

She said, for example, that GISC had relaxed its proposal that travel agents should segregate insurance money in their accounts.