With over a year of travel restrictions and cancelled holidays, it is safe to say that the 106 billion pound global travel industry has been significantly impacted from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contributing £106 billion to the British economy and GDP, and supporting around 3.6 million jobs, it was estimated that by 2025 the industry would be worth over £257 billion in the U.K.
But, with tourism grinding to a halt in 2019, and major U.K. airline companies such as Flybe being liquidated, these estimated statistics for the future are looking unlikely, with Britain set to lose around £22 billion in tourism revenues.
The United Kingdom has been hit harder by the pandemic than any other European country, with London been the hardest hit city. The WTTC said that about 85% of tourist spending here was from overseas visitors.
All travel, unless essential, is currently illegal in the U.K. with Brits facing fines of up to £5000 if travelling without a valid reason.
It is still uncertain whether summer holidays will go ahead this year and some airlines have even cancelled their schedule flights up until June.
Without a green light on international travel, jobs within this sector have been hugely affected. Emily Peggs, an employee for Hay’s travel spoke about how these effects have impacted herself, and travel agents across the country.
Figures from The Office for National Statistics show that during lockdown 1 which began March 2020, international travel dropped to just 53% and during Lockdown 2 in November 2020 they dropped again to just 9%.
Data from the Monthly Business Survey show that there have been differing impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) between industries. Turnover in travel and tourism businesses fell to its lowest level in 2020 in May, at just 26.0% of February levels, compared with 73.6% in all other industries. Accommodation and travel agency businesses saw the sharpest decline in turnover during the first national lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May.
Unemployment has been a major effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the past year due to the on-going travel restrictions there has been a huge amount of job losses within the travel industry.
It is rumoured that British Airways alone made 10,000 redundancies last year due to the global pandemic.
However, the travel industry stretches far beyond the professionals, but also the university graduates who have been unable to find employment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Travel and Tourism and Travel management are very popular university degrees however last year those who have had graduated from these degrees have really suffered due to the uncertainty within the travel industry.
Chloe Bute a Travel management graduate spoke to us about the employment she’s been faced with following the coronavirus pandemic.
“Last year I had an interview for my dream job to be a flight attendant at British Airways, unfortunately a few weeks after my interview I received an email telling me that they were no longer recruiting due to the pandemic.
“Since having this interview there have been no jobs advertised within the travel industry which has meant I have had to take up a full-time job working in a bank.
“I feel like it will take a long time for the travel industry to recover especially with the amount of people that have lost their jobs over the last year.
“Hopefully with the easing of restrictions more people will be booking holidays and flying abroad which will make more jobs available within the industry”
Chloe is one of many in this position that is struggling to find work within the travel industry due to the back lash of the last year.
Hopefully when flights and international travel can resume there will be more opportunities for those seeking work within the travel industry.
The pandemic has not only affected jobs and business, but also foreign students attending Teesside University who have been unable to travel home for the past year to see any of their family and friends.
When they attempted to travel home, they were faced with uncertainty on whether they would be able to return with the rules constantly changing around foreign travel.
We spoke to these students about how their travel plans have been affected and how it impacted them personally.
While airlines and millions of people have struggled throughout the pandemic due to the travel restrictions, Teesside University students have used this time productively and created a Travel Society.
One could ask why? What is the point of Travel Society in the age of a coronavirus pandemic? Rockingham Dube, the Chair of the society, explains the idea to us.
“The purpose is definitely to travel, but the pandemic might not be positive on the face of it, but the advantage is that it gives us time to plan. In other circumstances we wouldn’t have time to plan.
“If you create a travel society people might be asking when the next trip is, and if it’s too far away they might not be interested, but right now it gives us time to put in the foundation.”
With that being said, the Travel Society is not wasting time and have already planned online activities for the members, so that everyone can still enjoy being a part of the society whilst they patiently wait for their first post-lockdown trip.
The society’s first excursion will be local however, their main focus is on planning an international trip. The struggle they face now is whether they will be able to afford an international trip after the restrictions are lifted.
Rockingham worries that flight tickets could potentially be more expensive as airlines may want to make up for their losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Luckily, the society already has a plan.
“The SU fund will help, but the idea mainly is that you’ve got active members who will participate in raising funds for themselves, this could be through fundraising activities.
“Most people will be able to fund themselves and luckily I am able to source cheap flights. For example, we might look at Turkey which is at the top end of budget travel, coming in at £250 with a return flight. So, it is self-sponsoring with the help of SU funds and fundraising activities.
“We can’t guarantee sponsorships, but we can try” explains Rockingham.
It seems like the society is prepared for the restrictions to be lifted so that they can finally book and go on their first trip together. While travel is impossible now, at least the students who are part of this society, have something to look forward too.