Please remember travel agencies, which were badly hit by lockdown

A letter from Bryan Somers:

Friday, 28th May 2021, 4:00 am
Letter to the editor

Many sectors of business have been badly affected by the Covid lockdown.

The hospitality and airline industries have been severely hit and quite rightly have had their troubles highlighted in the media.

Spare a thought for the travel industry, in particular the travel agencies, and understand how they have been affected.

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By March travel agencies will normally have forward bookings to the value of 50% of their annual turnover. They will have received deposits on these holidays and will have paid these deposits on to tour operators or other principals.

Covid hit in March 2020 and virtually all pre-booked holidays were cancelled.

Agency staff could not shut up shop like non-essential retailers and go home for the duration.

No, they had to return all deposits to clients and spend months fighting with suppliers to get deposits and balances returned.

They had to answer hundreds of phone calls from clients, anxious to know what was happening. They had to arrange return travel for clients already out of the country. They did not earn a penny for the rest of the year.

Government decisions on travel were made overnight and were often without logic or common sense. For example travel to the Canaries was banned along with mainland Spain despite the fact that Covid was negligible in the Canaries.

Travel agencies lost all the commission they had expected to earn on 50% of their annual turnover and in addition had to continue incurring costs to look after their customers for the rest of the year and well into this year as government guidelines continued to confuse.

Please remember this next time you are tempted to book online and support your local travel agency whose main aim is to look after your interests.

Bryan Somers, Crawfordsburn

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