The Association of Northern Ireland Travel Agents (ANITA) has warned that around 100 high street travel agents are facing “extinction”.
ANITA is currently putting pressure on the Executive to provide a tailored financial package to help struggling local travel businesses.
When the pandemic hit in March, travel agents remained open to help customers alter holiday arrangements or obtain refunds and while there was no revenue coming through the doors, rent and mortgage payments, electricity and telephone bills all had to continue to be paid.
Commissions already earned on forward bookings were repaid and staff still had to be paid while earnings during the pandemic took a massive downturn.
Speaking on behalf of the Association, Damian Murphy of Terra Travel said: “To date we have had no voice – no-one to represent us at Stormont- and our 100 high street shops now face extinction.
“We had customers stranded across the world who had to be repatriated – very time-consuming, stressful and costly for us all.
“We need a six-month extension to the rates relief for our High Street premises.
“We also need a cash grant to help with ongoing bills and simply to keep us in a position to keep trading.
“Our businesses have effectively been forced to close but we have enjoyed none of the support that the hospitality sector, along with taxi and coach companies have been promised.
“We have approximately 50 home workers in Northern Ireland who need a financial package tailored to their needs as well.”