Travel agents staged a protest outside the Scottish Parliament today as they warned the government their industry is close to collapse.
The event was organised by the Scottish Passenger Agents Association (SPAA), who say that Covid-19 restrictions have left their trade “broken and broke”.
SPAA President Joanne Dooey says there is a serious risk of Scotland losing the industry and the 26,000 jobs it supports.
She said: “It seems as if the Scottish Government has completely turned its back on the travel industry, which is massively short-sighted.
“Scotland is a small country which needs its connectivity to the rest of the globe. We have already lost routes and more is imminent.
“If this happens it will be a catastrophe for the Scottish economy.”
SPAA members estimate that at least 500 job have been lost since March and the rate of job losses will accelerate quickly as the industry enters a second year of no revenue.
Travel agencies are handling between 8% and 11% of the work volume of previous years – with the bulk of the current work being admin-related to refunds and bookings.
Passengers through Edinburgh Airport between April and September fell by 91% on the previous year and in June, Glasgow Airport said traffic was down 98% on 2019.
Ms Dooey added: “We’ve lost all of our revenue for 2020 and we’re now facing the whole of 2021 with zero revenue.
“We urgently need a tailored support package of grants for the industry.”
Business minister Jamie Hepburn said the Scottish Government is engaging with the travel sector and the SPAA to understand the challenges facing them.
He said: “While protecting public health must remain our priority, we do not underestimate the significant impact this pandemic has had and continues to have on the tourism sector, both outbound and inbound.
“We are doing everything we can with our limited powers to help businesses, offering support which now exceeds £2.3 billion in addition to the UK Government’s furlough scheme.”