Travel agents began 2012 with strong January air ticket sales, which were up 10.7% over the previous January, ARC reported Thursday.

ARC reported that sales were up 22.3% over January 2010.

Total sales last month were $7.2 billion, ARC reported, up from $6.6 billion. "We can safely say that in terms of sales, this appears to be our best January when comparing data from 2002 to 2012," ARC said.

Domestic sales rose 10.9% to $3.1 billion, while international sales increased 3.6% to $2.7 billion.

Total transactions were up 3.2%, reversing a trend that defined 2011, of higher sales from fewer bookings.

"Although we are not sure, the increase in transactions might be because of a slowly improving economy," said Oscar Garcia, a senior data analyst at ARC. "This appears to be a good start, but we will be closely watching transaction levels as the year progresses."

Follow Johanna Jainchill on Twitter @jjainchilltw.

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