ABTA has finally confessed the travel industry is on
its knees and will suffer widescale job losses if Britain goes to war with
Iraq.

In a last-ditch plea for help, ABTA chief executive
Ian Reynolds has written to the Government painting a bleak picture of the UK
travel industry.

Mirroring Travel Weekly’s month-long anti-war
campaign, Reynolds warned the Government travel businesses are going bust, jobs
being cut and bookings plummeting. He said the impact of war would go “far
wider than the ABTA membership and the travelling public”.

“Our members employ more than 100,000 people in the UK
alone,” he said. “Many of them are located in call centres in areas of
relatively high unemployment. We are also major employers of school-leavers.”

Reynolds said 14 members have gone bust since
September with the number likely to rise. He also said members are reporting
falls in bookings of between 15%-25% and redundancies are on the way.
MyTravel’s initial phase of consultation with staff finishes at the end of this
week, as it looks to take 700 jobs out of the business.