SINGAPORE – Travel agencies are calling for greater government support as they enter survival mode, with intensifying measures to mitigate business losses from cost-saving to training.
Singapore-based travel agency Citystate Travel’s executive director Albert Ho told Travel Weekly Asia that the agency has felt the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak “since February”. It has since “deepened very much in March”.
Mr Ho shared that the impact of business loss has been “easily 90% off” compared to the same time last year.
By early-February, it had arranged for most of its employees to work from home to minimise disruption of services to customers as well as ensure their safety.
To mitigate the impact of business loss, it implemented measures ranging from pay-cuts, no-pay leave that is equivalent up to a 30% pay reduction and requesting that staff clear some of their annual leave.
Mr Ho warns that these measures are “certainly not adequate to stem the loss” and “more intense measures will have to be introduced from April”.
“Collectively as a travel agency community, we are hoping for a very supportive second relief package from our government as our industry is by far one of the hardest hit. If not, I’m afraid many jobs are at risk in the near term,” Mr Ho said.
For Dynasty Travel, it is making use of the downtime to send staff for enhanced training programmes that cover areas from digital marketing to adaptive skills, service excellence and occupational first aid.
Dynasty Travel’s director, public relations & communications Alicia Seah spoke of hopes to tap on government funding to assist its efforts in “restructuring some of our operations during this period” and to “remodel part of our business and diversify our markets”.
“It is important for us to continue our efforts to remain competitive so that we can emerge stronger when recovery happens.
“With the current stringent precautionary measures that are in place locally and around the world, we are seeing positive results in China and we hope that the virus can be curbed and controlled by second half of 2020,” Ms Seah noted.