Northern Ireland travel agents are urging the Executive to deliver tailored support to the sector in the next budget.
ABTA, ANITA (Association of Northern Ireland Travel Agents) and NITA's (Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance) plea to Stormont comes after the ONS figures showed a fall of 86% in economic output for the sector, making it the second worst hit sector during the pandemic.
And the latter groups say agents will suffer more hardships as support schemes end and because many travel businesses have not received any tailored financial help.
Other industries which have been required to close, like hospitality and accommodation providers, have had specific support, say the group, leaving their sector at a disadvantage.
Sandra Corkin, managing director of Oasis Travel, a chain of five agencies here, explained: "The travel sector has had no additional support other than usual retail grants. We will take much longer to recover as people are unable to travel due to government restrictions. Some people are booking now for 2022 but we need support for this year."
NITA chief executive, Joanne Stuart, said many in the trade are "fighting for survival". "We are calling on the NI Executive to recognise the need for tailored support for this sector and utilise the COVID-19 funding to address this gap to ensure survival."
The travel sector's plea comes as the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) reaches out to the Executive to support hoteliers' recovery using its 'Return to Trading' pathway. In it, NIHF chief executive Janice Gault lays out five steps to reopening while listing eight key support measures needed to safeguard the trade as lockdown continues. This includes keeping VAT at 5%, full business rates relief until 2022, a removal of curfew and support with promotion.
Ciaran O'Neill, owner and managing director of Bishop's Gate Hotel in Derry, said announcing the reopening of hotels is not enough. He said: "We need communication about what reopening looks like. If there is restrictive trading, then we need clarity and that may mean it's not viable for many operators to reopen."