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many affiliate descriptions and images for the rest of the country.
How many writers and editors would one need on staff to have a decent-quality 28,000-page site?
Three words jump at me from the OP..."travel industry" and "affiliate". In my niche (same 3 words) the Penguin ver 1 update wiped out all the small to medium affiliate sites and not a single one (of about 15-20 individual businesses) has ever come back, despite doing all the recommended remedial actions. That was the arrival of the big brands domination.
important to distinguish between "affiliate sites" and "information sites that have affiliate links," since Google apparently does.
The worst affected sites still rank for their key informational search term BUT all the affiliate pages within the sites no longer see any traffic. My experience (and yours may vary) is that Penguin put the skids under ALL travel affiliate activity, not just the "thin" ones.
We get a lot of traffic on our pages that have affiliate links (they aren't "affiliate pages" per se), but most of the traffic is generated internally. Our affiliate topics are so competitive that I'd be surprised if we got more than a trickle of search traffic for those topics.
Its affiliate site (no links to source) but for sure I've added value to my customers - a booking engine, ability to make payment with cards online and customer service.