Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said has spoken on Sky News explaining the pressure the travel sector is under amid the coronavirus crisis as agents and operators strive to properly service customers.
Appearing on Tuesday morning (28 April) during a report on customer refunds, Lo Bue-Said described how the travel sector is struggling to cope with the sheer amount of requests and enquiries due to high numbers of staff being furloughed across the industry.
“You have a scenario where between 80% and 90% of staff right across the travel industry are furloughed, so we are working with more volume of calls, more volume of emails, but you don’t have the volume of people to be able to support the consumer right now,” she said.
Lo Bue-Said’s comments came amid calls from the industry to government to reassess how the furlough scheme relates to the travel sector.
Abta’s public affairs chief Luke Petherbridge revealed to TTG late last week the association was in talks with ministers over the scheme, acknowledging there may be a need for “continued salary support for travel” to avoid job losses.
“We’re already having conversations with the government around the furloughing scheme. Both the lack of suitability for right now, because it doesn’t allow you to help customers… going forward there may be some need for certain sectors to have some kind of continued salary support, if the government does want to avoid job losses in the long run,” he told TTG’s second Keep Your Business Alive virtual seminar.
It followed a TTG Agent Matters Facebook panel, in which agents called for help “beyond just furlough”.
Joanne Dooey, owner of Love To Travel and president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, highlighted Ireland’s solution – whereby staff are paid 70% of their salary to work.
Simon Morgan, chief executive of Tailor Made Travel, meanwhile, pointed out that England-based DMOs have been permitted up to £2,500 per month for two members of non-furloughed staff.
“My staff who are furloughed want to help,” added Dooey. “We need to get these guys doing some sort of work from home, with help from the government.”