An independent agent has warned the travel industry is “fast running out of cash”, as businesses have to start paying a proportion of wages for furloughed staff.
Jackie Steadman, who owns TravelTime World, told BBC Radio 5 live she was “not looking forward to the end of furlough” as it had been “critical” in enabling the agency to keep staff during the pandemic.
From Thursday (1 July), employers will have to contribute 10% of wages to furloughed staff with this rising to 20% in August and September before the scheme is due to end.
Steadman said her business still had staff on furlough as there was currently “nothing for them to do” if they were brought back into the agency with bookings still impacted by a lack of consumer confidence.
“As an industry we are fast running out of cash,” added Steadman. “We are a bit like a pub who is refunding people who had a beer two years ago.
“We will be able to afford the next few months but then we will have to make some critical decisions come October.”
She said removing the quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated people would provide “massive help to the industry”.
The government wants to do this for travellers returning from countries on the amber list but has yet to give a timescale about its introduction, raising fears it will be too late to “save” this summer’s holiday season.
Steadman also talked about the strain on the mental health of her staff due to fears about the virus and their jobs, as well as having to help clients who have been left stranded during the crisis.
She admitted it had also been “tough” for her as a business owner with “lots of sleepless nights”.