Tailor Made Travel boss Simon Morgan has called on the government to offer guaranteed loans to the trade until advice against international travel changes.
Chief executive Morgan, who employs 100 staff across 20 high street branches in South Wales, believes the plight of the retail travel agent has been largely under-represented at government level.
The indefinite advice against all but essential travel by the Foreign Office was “significantly impacting” the industry’s ability to get back on its feet, said Morgan, whose own business has seen booking revenues plummet.
“In the last 90 days we would have taken £9 million in booking revenue; it’s down to £1 million,” he said.
Despite government support, which has included grants of £25,000 per branch, Morgan said more was needed based on the lack of revenue this year and the time it would take agencies to recover.
He said: “If the government said it was not safe to fish, the fishing industry would quickly get subsidies.
“It’s a huge frustration that government decisions, such as banning all international travel indefinitely, have significantly impacted our revenues and stopped people from booking. The government needs to introduce guaranteed lending until such time as the international travel ban is reversed.”
A guaranteed loan is one underwritten by a third party, such as the government, should the borrower default.
‘No one is representing the travel agent’
He said the industry needed to unite to get the government’s ear. “We are an important industry. No one is representing the agent,” he added.
Other agents agreed the role of travel agencies had not been recognised by government.
Jill Waite, whose agency Pole Travel saw revenues fall from £250,000 to £1,700 for the month of April, said: “I don’t think anyone in government has realised what we are doing and what a massive job it is to refund and repatriate people and the paperwork involved.”
Westoe Travel director Graeme Brett said the financial hit on agents as a result of monies not recouped in the rebooking process had not been talked about. “It’s going to take us two years to recover from this,” he said.