Club Europe is warning more than half of school travel specialists will cease to exist this time next year, calling for recognition from the government for the sector.
“The plight of this beleaguered industry has been completely overlooked by the media and the government,” said the company in a statement to TTG.
“While schools return and teachers begin to get to grips with their ’new normal’, school travel, an integral part of a pupil’s school year, remains at a standstill, unable to move forward and unable to recuperate losses from the past six months,” he said.
“Unlike other areas of the travel industry, school travel is restricted by the government’s current ban on UK and overseas residential school trips in 2021.
“School travel was the first to be adversely affected by Covid-19, with the first cancellations creeping in as early as March 2020, and it will be the last to return to some sort of normality.
“Already, STA Travel is insolvent. The fear is many more companies will cease to trade.
The School Travel Forum, of which Club Europe is a founding member, is lobbying the government for urgent assistance for the school travel sector.
Family-owned Club Europe Group Travel, a specialist family-run school travel operator which marks its 40th year in business this year, has been working throughout the pandemic to support teachers, all of whom have had to cancel their 2020 school trips. Many of its staff are furloughed, and the end of the furlough scheme, and what this will bring is “looming”.
Managing Director Tim Johnson said: "While we have seen many brave UK holidaymakers jet off to destinations across the continent and beyond over the summer, the school travel industry remains in uncertain waters.
“Airlines, hotels and mainstream travel companies have been able to recoup some of their losses due to the pandemic, while the school travel industry still awaits the government’s ruling on both UK and overseas residential school trips in 2021; for them to lift the ban they have imposed.
“Like many industries, our business this year has been decimated with all trips from Easter onwards cancelled.
Some teachers have deferred their trips, though it remains unclear whether even by February 2021 (when the school ski trip season takes place) the world will be a sufficiently safe place to enable these trips to go ahead.”
He continued: “Like the rest of UK businesses, we will face some tough decisions when the furlough scheme ends next month but will do everything we can to avoid redundancies.
“Meanwhile we are unchartered waters, unable to arrange trips for this year and uncertain about 2021.”
Club Europe is joining the School Travel Forum in lobbying the government to request “urgent assistance for the school travel sector in recognition of the contribution that it makes to the educational experience and benefits offered for wider society”.
Johnson added: “The school travel sector greatly enhances children’s resilience and mental wellbeing and contributes hugely to the tourism economy of the UK. Residential educational trips are every child’s right and an indisputable way of engaging students and improving educational standards.”
As part of the School Travel Forum, Club Europe is also working on a document – In Safe Hands - to reassure parents and teachers that every conceivable step will be taken to ensure their children have a safe and secure school trip with STF member companies. This will be published next month.