Travel bosses blame government Covid policies for industry crisis and job losses

Bosses have claimed Government travel policies have “stood in the way of a recovery” and issued a new plea for support as it was revealed nine out of every 10 holidays were affected by coronavirus restrictions.

A survey of nearly 200 travel firms carried out in late October – before England’s second national lockdown was announced – indicated that 91 per cent of holidays due to take place in July and August were cancelled or changed because of issues linked to the pandemic.

The number of new bookings expected between now and the end of the year is expected to be down a staggering 93 per cent on the same period last year, the research suggested.

Trade group Abta suggested that the number of jobs lost or under threat across the outbound travel sector and related industries since the pandemic began has increased from 90,000 in August to 164,000.

It found that bookings for next year are at 45 per cent of what would have been expected without the pandemic, which “although far behind normal” indicates that “demand for travel remains”.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “The travel industry has had no meaningful chance to recover. Bookings have largely vanished. Cancellations are common as destinations move on and off the travel corridor list, and the Government is yet to deliver a testing framework for industry and customers.

“The results are stark for businesses – job losses mounting at an alarming rate, and viable, longstanding businesses closing their doors for good.

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“It is short-sighted of the Government to overlook the industry, as travel is fundamental to the UK’s economic recovery.

“We need the Government to step in and support the industry now – as it has done for other sectors – so that the industry is ready to support the UK’s wider economic recovery.”

A Government spokeswoman responded: “We recognise the challenging times facing the travel sector as a result of Covid-19, which is why we will do everything we can to help this critical industry.

“Protecting jobs is an absolute priority and the extension of the furlough scheme, as well as wider support through action on airport slots, loans and tax deferrals, will help businesses safeguard jobs as we head into winter.

“The Global Travel Taskforce will also continue to work at pace with industry to develop measures to support the industry’s long-term future.”