Latin America specialists are having to adapt their businesses as the region reopens after being forced to make cuts to resources during the pandemic.
Speakers at the Lata Expo virtual event said huge amounts of industry knowledge had been lost due to enforced redundancies but insisted they were confident that businesses and the wider sector could bounce back.
Sarah Bradley, managing director of Journey Latin America, said the end of the furlough scheme did not cause huge numbers of redundancies because “businesses made steep cuts earlier on”.
However, she added: “People have been incredibly resilient [and] that does take its toll. We’ve lost knowledge. We’ve sacrificed hundreds of years of accrued knowledge last year.”
Colin Stewart, Lata chairman and country director for Air Europa, said his team had been reduced from 10 to six as a result of the pandemic.
“Relatively speaking, that’s quite a significant portion of my team that’s no longer with me,” he said. “Other people have had to take on responsibilities that weren’t part of their original job role and are having to do that on a reduced salary.”
Stewart added that the industry was seeing people who had been in travel for years losing their businesses and incomes, and said it was important to recognise that human impact even if the wider sector rebounded.
“This industry is absolutely robust,” he said. “Whether it be the Gulf War or 9/11, the industry has had a fall-off but it has come back stronger. I am confident that it will come back and it will come back, be strong and we’ll see growth.”
But he added: “It’s the carnage that has been left behind. We can easily talk about it in a commercial context but we can’t forget the people that have been lost along the way. My message is we’ll get through it.”