The amount of jobs being recruited for in the travel industry has halved since the summer, say two leading recruitment companies.

C&M Recruitment managing director Angus Chisholm said his company took on 35 new positions last week, around 50% of the normal level, while recruitment company New Frontiers managing director Julia Feuell has admitted the size of market has halved since the summer.

However, both claim they have witnessed an increase in good-quality candidates following the large amount of redundancies in the autumn.

He added the business travel market has been the worst hit for vacancies but said the fact that most companies are doing some sort of recruitment should be seen as positive.

Chisholm added: “I still think the confidence in the new year for January and February is going to be very important to the industry.”

Feuell said the core problem in the market is confidence, which has led to companies recruiting more temporary and contract staff, while employees are loath to leave their current jobs as they are concerned that newly created positions elsewhere may be the first to be axed should redundancies occur.

She said the situation is not as bad as it could be and agrees with Chisholm that the start of 2009 will be crucial. She added: “Companies haven’t released as many staff as they might have done but they may well do in the new year if the situation hasn’t picked up.” which carries more than 2,700 jobs and which saw a 30% increase in job applications, reported a 29% increase in unique users and a 27% rise in visitor numbers in the first week of November.

Despite the gloom of redundancies the latest poll from, the Travel Weekly information site, found that of 750 travel agents 71% think they will be working in the travel industry next year while only 29% think they won’t be. Chisholm said: “Companies can pick up some exceptional people who wouldn’t have been available six or eight months ago.”