Travel agents and tour operators have been worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic when compared to any other services sector, according to the ONS figures published today.

However, the industry, unlike other sectors such as hospitality and the arts, has had no tailored support from the UK government, argues ABTA.

The figures reveal the impact of the coronavirus on the UK economy for October and shows that travel agents and operators are 90 per cent down on where they were in February 2020, the worst of any of the services sectors.

Travel companies have had very little trading opportunity since the start of the pandemic, with restrictions across the UK and internationally preventing travel.

ABTA has been arguing for tailored financial support for the sector throughout the crisis.

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While travel companies have been able to access the furlough scheme, and it has served to save jobs, they are unable to take full advantage as travel staff need to be employed to deal with re-bookings and refunds, which have been a constant feature of the pandemic due to ever-changing travel advice.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, said: “While the recent developments around a vaccine and test to release have provided a boost to consumer confidence, with more enquiries and interest in booking holidays for next summer and into 2022, the start of 2021 will still be very challenging for the industry.

“All of the travel industry is struggling, but for some parts, like ski and long-haul operators, the coming months will be even more difficult.

“Nine months into this crisis, and with the ONS now clearly showing we have been the hardest hit service sector in the UK, travel businesses need help to get through the difficult months ahead.

“The government also needs to ease its travel advice, allowing people to travel more freely.”

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