More than 90,000 jobs have been lost or placed at risk across the wider travel sector since the coronavirus crisis started, the association of travel agents and tour operators has said.
Abta has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for a package of measures to support businesses and employees before thousands more jobs are lost.
The travel association warned that the job situation in the industry had reached a “critical point” with measures to control the pandemic affecting the market.
A survey of Abta members, published on Monday, found 18% of jobs in outbound travel had already been lost or placed at risk, but 78% businesses yet to enter redundancy conversations were expecting to do so in coming months based on current trading conditions.
It is calling on the Government to adopt a “regionalised” approach to quarantine rules and use the Autumn Budget to announce an air passenger duty holiday covering summer 2021 to incentivise people to book holidays.
Abta’s chief executive Mark Tanzer said more businesses would fall into administration unless the Government took action.
He added: “With the Government’s stop-start measures, the restart of travel has not gone as hoped for the industry, and sadly businesses continue to be adversely affected and jobs are being lost at an alarming rate.
“Coming towards the end of the traditional period for peak booking, we have hit a critical point as existing Government measures to support businesses begin to taper off, the consequence of which, according to this survey of Abta members, will be ruinous for more people’s livelihoods.
“Travel desperately needs the Government in its next review to provide tailored support or tens of thousands more jobs will be lost.”
His comments come days after student travel firm STA Travel UK ceased trading, claiming it was left with “no choice” following the impact of the coronavirus crisis on tourism.
The travel agency, which specialises in package tours for backpackers and young people, has more than 50 stores across the UK.
STA Travel UK said in a statement on Friday that while it had taken measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19, sales had not picked up due to “consumer uncertainties, further restrictions and renewed lockdown measures”.
Abta estimates that 39,000 jobs have already been lost or placed at risk across the outbound travel sector since the pandemic started.
But this rises to more than 90,000 when supply chains are also considered, it added.
Abta said that the Government’s job retention scheme had been a “significant” help for businesses in the travel industry, with nine out of 10 businesses taking part in the scheme to support staff.
But 65% of businesses have either had to make redundancies or have started a consultation process, it added.
The travel association said there was optimism that the travel industry can recover if offered the right support by Government, with four in 10 businesses confident travel can return to 2019 levels by 2022.
But if the Government does not provide tailored support for the travel sector, 83% of firms estimate that it will have a “critical or serious” impact on their business, Abta warned.
Abta also called on the Government to provide recovery grants, extend other business support measures into 2021-22, and give ongoing salary support.