‘Disappointed’ agencies in Wales brace for lockdown

Juliet Dennis

Travel agencies in Wales have expressed disappointment at having to close for a ‘firebreak’ lockdown but urged the trade to remain “positive and proactive”. Non-essential shops in Wales will

be shut from 6pm on Friday until Monday, November 9. Agencies said staff would be

working from home in the meantime. The Welsh government is offering

£300 million worth of support under its Economic Resilience Fund to help affected businesses, including a £1,000 grant covered by the small business rates relief scheme and a one-off grant of up to £5,000 for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value below £50,000. Advantage Travel Partnership

chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said said members’ business had already fallen by 80%-90% as a result of the

It’s not ideal, and

it’s disappointing, but if it gets us to the other side faster then I’m in full support

pandemic, compared with a 10%-20% drop for pubs and restaurants. She said: “We understand public

health must take precedence, but for our members in Wales, this is really disappointing news. “The reality is agents have been in

de facto lockdown for seven months now; their doors may have been open but the lack of travel corridors and blanket quarantine measures have made it impossible for agents to sell travel. “It is positive the Welsh

government has outlined a 17-day timeframe, but for agents the situation remains anything but manageable.”

A dozen staff at Miles Morgan

Travel shops in Chepstow, Abergavenny and Monmouth are affected. Owner Miles Morgan said: “It’s not ideal, and it’s disappointing, but if it gets us to the other side faster then I’m in full support.” Mark White, managing director of

Ocky White Travel in Haverfordwest, said he was “bitterly disappointed” but added: “It appears the Welsh government is at least acknowledging the difficulties facing the trade.” Suzanne Cumpston, sales and

commercial manager at Sam Smith Travel in Cowbridge, urged travel businesses to use this time to reassure customers. She said: “If we can remain positive

and proactive and bring in some business until this situation is over, then there will be rewards for those who survive. We are communicating with our database but also want the big boys to reassure people.”

Agencies Toucan Travel and Number One Travel cease trading

Seven-branch agency Toucan Travel ceased trading this week, Abta confirmed. The company, established in 1982, had shops in

Hampshire and Berkshire and also traded under the names Magical Tickets, Hart Travel, Winchester Travel Service and Peregrine Travel. Its shops were based in Chineham, Fleet, Hook,

Odiham, Tadley, Thatcham and Winchester. The agency was an Advantage Travel Partnership

member and was run by director Terry Thornhill. Its website listed 30 members of staff. Toucan Travel sold a range of holidays,

from sun and city breaks to adventure, cruise, luxury and tailor-made trips. It specialised in Florida, and ran its Magical Tickets brand via

6 22 OCTOBER 2020 Abta said the majority of holidays sold by Toucan

Travel Ltd were sold as an agent for other tour operators, but that it also made a “small number” of attraction ticket and accommodation-only sales, which are protected by Abta or card issuers.

Number One Travel parent BTY Ltd this week. The agency, established in 1998, also traded as

Independent Travel Advisors, Golf 55 International, Intersport Holidays and Medjugorje Pilgrimages, and sold mostly as an agent. Abta urged customers to contact their

operator to confirm future flight-inclusive bookings. It also warned claims could take “up to six months” to process due to the volume submitted amid the pandemic.

Abta also confirmed the failure of Harrogate-based Fred Olsen Travel buys

Fred Olsen Travel has acquired the database and brand of Travel Norwich Airport, which ceased trading in the summer. The 14-branch miniple is reviving the

brand via its two Norfolk branches, in Norwich city centre and near the airport. It has taken on two of 12 former Travel

Norwich Airport employees, who will initially work part-time in one of the branches, and will consider taking on “four or five” other ex-members of staff who expressed interest once the market picks up. Fred Olsen Travel head of commercial

Paul Hardwick said the agency was planning to replicate the Travel Norwich Airport model in Dorset with the launch of Travel

Caption for the pic

Miles Morgan, Suzanne Cumpston (below left) and Julia Lo Bue-Said

Paul Hardwick, flanked by Fred Olsen Travel group branch managers Emma Livermore (left) and Lorna Neale

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