New figures from ABTA suggest nine in ten holidays were either cancelled or rearranged in July and August, as the Covid-19 pandemic caused havoc in the travel sector.
The new findings are from a survey of members carried out at the end of October before the latest lockdown measures were announced.
They also reveal that a third of businesses have not yet resumed active operations since the UK-wide national lockdown – demonstrating the constraints on the sector.
The lack of an opportunity to recover means that in the current trading conditions businesses expect to end the year 93 per cent down on bookings compared to this time last year.
Even before the latest lockdown, redundancies are estimated to have almost doubled over a three-month period – with 164,000 people either losing their jobs or having their jobs at risk in the travel and wider industries, up from 90,000 in August.
In response, ABTA has renewed its calls to government to deliver a plan which provides tailored support for the industry and put measures in place to ensure a swift return to travel and boost consumer confidence after the lockdown has lifted.
It acknowledges that while positive developments this week, in terms of securing a vaccine, will go some way to restoring consumer confidence in booking future travel plans, travel businesses need help now.
It highlights that while other sectors – like hospitality, culture and the arts – have received specific support from the Government, travel businesses have been left wanting.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, said: “The travel industry has had no meaningful chance to recover – bookings have largely vanished, cancellations are common as destinations move on and off the travel corridor list and the government is yet to deliver a testing framework for industry and customers.
“The results are stark for businesses – job losses mounting at an alarming rate and viable, longstanding businesses closing their doors for good.”
He added: “But there is demand for travel and we are starting to see people booking for summer 2021 – demonstrating the importance of travel and resilience of the market.
“This will no doubt be boosted by the news of a vaccine, but we must remember that a robust vaccine programme is many months away and the industry is struggling now.
“It is short-sighted of the government to overlook the industry as travel is fundamental to our economic recovery.”