Six agents from the Advantage Travel Partnership have told a national newspaper about the devastating impact of Covid-19 on their businesses and personal mental health.
The article in the Daily Mail follows the newspaper’s coverage of Travel Weekly’s webcast with Kate Harris of Inspired Travel, who shed tears as she talked about her struggle to keep her agency afloat.
“Zero pay since March, gruelling hours and verbal abuse: Travel agents say Covid impact is killing their livelihoods and harming their mental health – as they slam Boris for ‘abandoning’ an industry on its knees,” said the article.
It highlighted the cases of Jeanne Lally, who owns Travel Bureau in Gosforth, Newcastle; Emma Kayne, who runs Kayne Travel in Wath-upon-Dearne, Rotherham; Clare Dudley, owner of Ponders Travel in Cambridge; Jo Dooey, owner of Love to Travel, a three-branch agency in Lanarkshire; Claire Moore, managing director of Peakes Travel Elite in Shrewsbury; and Jenny Jackson, who runs Luxury Travel Guru and works for Classic Travel of Loughton from her home in Crystal Palace.
Kayne told the Mail: “Covid has ripped out our heart and broken it into pieces. My staff are working bare minimum hours, for bare minimum pay due to issues I’ve had with the furlough system.
“I am working every hour possible – still for zero pay – in order to ensure my business survives.”
Dudley admitted she felt “almost at breaking point” in the summer after months of no income and long hours trying to deal with disappointed holidaymakers.
Dooey’s business has survived the Icelandic ash cloud, the Gulf War and other outbreaks but is – like others – struggling to survive without targeted government support.
Meanwhile, Lally, said her takings are down by 90% and the team has halved, from 14 full-time roles to seven.
Moore has also had to lose half of her team of 14 and the agency is trading at “a huge loss” each month.
Jackson told the Mail: “As a very successful agent with over 25 years’ experience, it breaks my heart seeing our industry torn apart.
“Thousands of amazing travel agents, many who have worked in the industry for decades and know nothing else are losing their jobs.
“The government have not realised or even considered how the travel industry has been so badly affected, no other industry has had to refund billions AND lose bookings.”
The Advantage Travel Partnership and the Association of Women Travel Executives have created a ‘Travel Support Bubble’ to offer emotional support to fellow travel industry professionals.
The partnership has been set up to support women in the travel industry who are “significantly more vulnerable to redundancy or minimal income potential”.
It will include a weekly open forum starting on Friday, October 16.
Several agents tweeted their support and solidarity with the agents, and Advantage Travel Partnership said on Twitter: “This is another step in our continued campaign to lobby the government for extra support and testing to limit quarantine!”