As many as 39,000 jobs have already been lost or placed at risk across the outbound travel sector since the Covid-19 crisis started, according to new research.
Surveying members, the Association of British Travel Agents found around 90,000 people could have impacted in total once supply chains are considered.
The situation has reached a “critical point,” the organisation added.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, explained: “With the government’s stop start measures, the restart of travel has not gone as hoped for the industry, and sadly businesses continue to be adversely affected and jobs are being lost at an alarming rate.
“Coming towards the end of the traditional period for peak booking, we have hit a critical point as existing government measures to support businesses begin to taper off, the consequence of which, according to this survey of ABTA members will be ruinous for more people’s livelihoods.
“Travel desperately needs the government in its next review to provide tailored support or tens of thousands more jobs will be lost.”
In response to potential job losses, ABTA has written to the chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to ask for tailored support in the form of a package of measures to support businesses.
The organisation found the job retention scheme has been a significant help for businesses in the travel industry, with nine in ten businesses taking part in the scheme to support staff.
However, 65 per cent of businesses have either had to make redundancies or have started a consultation process.
Despite this, there is optimism that the travel industry can recover, if offered the right support by government, with four in ten businesses confident travel can return to 2019 levels by 2022.
To do this, according to a plan put forward by ABTA, the government should adopt a regionalised approach to quarantine rules.
In the absence of a regional approach to Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice and quarantine rules the association argues it will be hard to reopen travel to critical trade partners, including the United States, in the foreseeable future.
At the same time, if the travel industry is to retain the maximum number of jobs, it is vital that consumers are incentivised to book holidays.
With the peak booking season starting from December, ABTA is therefore urging the government to use the Autumn Budget to announce an air passenger duty holiday covering Summer 2021.
If the government does not act with tailored support for travel, as it has for other sectors, 83 per cent of firms estimate that it will have a critical or serious impact on their business.
There are also calls to introduce a testing regime, echoing requests from officials at Heathrow.