The plight of Scottish travel businesses has been laid bare by the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), as travel agencies stand empty on what is traditionally the biggest holiday purchase day of the year.
In pre-pandemic times, Scots flocked to book their summer holidays in the period between Christmas and New Year following the major travel operators’ adverts which are always released on Boxing Day.
But today, when high street travel agencies open to the public after the Christmas break, enquiries and bookings are at a virtual standstill.
Research on pre pandemic years’ booking patterns shows that the number of daily travel bookings made in all countries increased by between nine and 62 per cent in the days after Christmas, with some surging by 69 per cent in the post-Christmas week.
Similar rises could also be seen in the first week of the new year.
Of UK residents, 25 per cent book their main holiday four to six months in advance of departure and 28 per cent book between 7 and 12 months before.
Joanne Dooey, president of the SPAA, said: “There’s no Christmas bonus for the travel sector this December.
“There is no post-holiday spike for Scottish travel agents, as holidaymakers’ confidence in travel has been shattered over the last 20 months.
“This will push travel agents who have fought tirelessly for almost two years to save their businesses to the edge.
“In 2021, travel agencies were operating at just 22 per cent of their previous annual revenue compared to pre Covid-19 yet their fixed costs remained the same.
“Many of our members tell us they were operating at ten per cent or less of previous years.
“Travel agents have become administrators; rebooking and issuing refunds while receiving no revenue and no grant support to help.
“We support those in all industries which have been told there is grant support there for them.
“But travel agencies are being pushed out of business by stealth.
“Restrictions around travel have been oppressively stringent, meaning people have no confidence in travelling.”
Dooey added: “We need a structured plan to be drawn up by the Scottish government in full consultation with all aspects of the travel industry which supports the future of Scottish travel rather than allowing it to wither and die.”