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Travel trade in 'jeopardy' over virus with lay-offs on the cards

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Concerns: Terry Murphy

Concerns: Terry Murphy

Concerns: Terry Murphy

A CO Armagh travel agent owner, with almost 50 years of experience, has said the trade is in "jeopardy" and is expecting that a number of outlets will fall victim to the coronavirus crisis.

Terry Murphy, who founded Terra Travel in 1972 and has travel agency outlets in Lurgan, Portadown and Craigavon, believes the crisis could last longer than three months.

Even when the Covid-19 emergency does come to an end, Mr Murphy said the business will not return to normal overnight but it will be a gradual process as staff may have to be re-employed, while holiday destinations could still be in lockdown.

"For practically every travel agent it has been a total nightmare," he said.

"Agents are sitting with their overheads rolling on like mad, there's no money coming in and it's a disastrous situation.

"That applies to literally any travel agent. I have spoken to a lot of other colleagues in the business and everybody is in the same boat."

Mr Murphy is hoping his family-run business can ride the storm but he can see the possibility of laying off staff if a lockdown situation emerged.

He added that it would be his intention to re-employ his staff in such an event but it would be on a gradual basis.

"We haven't been reckless or anything like that and we have been successful but suddenly you see it disappearing through no fault of your own," he continued. "You haven't done anything wrong but there's nothing you can do about it.

"I know one tour operator is thinking of restarting their flights in May but on a very gradual basis. They can't just say, 'we're going to start flights to Tenerife', it will depend very much on the destination being available to accept them. It's a very complicated situation.

"Every travel agent has a big fear at the minute and everybody's business is in jeopardy. I'm quite sure there'll be casualties along the line. It's a critical situation at the minute."

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