One in four Advantage agents struggling to pay off COVID debt

By Lisa James
04/03/2024
Home » One in four Advantage agents struggling to pay off COVID debt

One in four Advantage Travel Partnership agents are still paying off COVID debt and a third say high interest rates are impacting business.

The statistics have been compiled from a new survey released by the consortium ahead of the Spring Budget on 6 March.

It shows 44% of respondents are still servicing COVID-19 debt and 29% are experiencing strained cash flow and increased financial pressures, with high interest rates impacting their businesses.

Advantage members also reported concerns about cash flow, staff recruitment, wage increases, the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, higher prices, high corporation tax and consumer confidence.

Regardless of these challenges, the survey showed agency bosses are prioritising investing in future proofing their businesses this year with almost a quarter looking to invest in people, 12% investing in online booking tools and 7% said they were looking to invest in new trading locations.

Advantage and its UK Outbound Travel Group partners AITO and The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (ABTOT) have written to the Treasury ahead of the Budget to urge a reduction of business rates and financial support for business owners in the travel sector who are still struggling to pay back loans taken out during the pandemic.

Advantage CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said said: “The UK outbound travel industry remains a key contributor to both local and national economy and research has shown on average consumers spend an additional £200 per person in the UK before travelling overseas and international travel annually contributes a further £80 billion to the UK economy.

“It is therefore of paramount importance that the UK Government recognises the contribution that the industry makes and is supported in its growth. It’s really encouraging to see that our members are looking to invest in their businesses this year but there is no doubt that they will need the support of the Government as the industry navigates continued geopolitical challenges and economic uncertainty, to ensure that this growth can take place.

“Our recommendations include reduction of business rates and financial support for business owners in the travel sector who are still struggling to pay back loans taken out during the pandemic, so that these businesses may recover and thrive once again.”

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