THE
trade has drawn up action plans in a determined bid to beat the

bookings slump as war in the Gulf rages on.
The ongoing conflict has sparked an increase in
holiday cancellations and
price slashing,
widespread reductions in airline capacity, staff cutbacks
and reduced travel agency opening hours in a market trading 30% down
week
on week.
Fears are also rising of a prolonged war, with new
figures from the World
Travel and Tourism
Council suggesting this would slash the UK's tourism
income by $5 billion this year.
Despite this, the trade continues to put a brave
face on the situation and
is digging in for
the long term.

Tour operators are already putting together
post-conflict campaigns, while
agents are using
the quiet time to increase training and sales of holiday
extras. Hoteliers are adapting cancellation policies to stimulate demand
and pushing leisure sales.
MyTravel, where a staff consultation period to shed
700 posts ends in the
next week, said the
trade had been preparing for the situation for months.

UK managing director distribution and charter tour
operations Steve
Endacott said:
"There are no crisis meetings because everything has been
planned. We've had plenty of warning about this conflict and the impact
is
as we expected."
But operators admit they are seriously worried
about sales for the next
three months,
with May and June always traditionally hard to shift, and
even fear a price war if too much capacity is left in the market.
Cosmos commercial director Stuart Jackson warned:
"I'm most worried about
May and June
because it gets to a stage where you have to carry on with a
certain volume."
On-line retailers have already seen distressed
stock for April, May and
June dumped on
the web in a last-ditch attempt by operators to shift
holidays. Prices are already hitting lows of £79 for seven nights in
Tenerife and £1 a night for accommodation-only
product.

ABTA has told consumers to expect "bargains in
the short term" but has
warned the deals
may dry up when the war ends.

Meanwhile, British Airways has brought forward
plans to cut 3,000 jobs
from next March
to this autumn while 87 Air Miles call-centre staff in
Crawley have come under renewed threat of redundancy.