NEW YORK: A travel agent is seen breaking down in tears as she discusses her fight to save her previously successful 20-year-old business from going under due to the Covid crisis – and reveals how she’s applying for jobs to stack shelves in a bid to pay her bills.
Kate Harris, who owns award-winning holiday company Inspired Travel and lives in Burbage, Leicestershire, couldn’t contain her emotion as she discussed how her business has been put under huge strain, as she slammed the Government’s furlough scheme as ‘cr**py’.
Speaking to Travel Weekly Editor-in-chief Lucy Huxley for a webcast about the way the travel industry has been devastated by the pandemic, the single mother-of-one fought back tears as she revealed how, even with the help of the furlough scheme, she’s only taken £120 in the last month, and still has to pay her one employee £500.
Getting emotional, she told Huxley in the ‘heartbreaking’ interview that she already owed £10,000 and is behind on the company’s corporation tax and VAT bills.
She said she’d been left wondering whether all the sacrifices she’s made along the way, including years when she says she was a ‘drive-by mother’, to run her own business have been worth it.
The company director struggled not to cry as she revealed recent interviews she’s had, saying: ‘I did a Zoom interview for a job with two people who are younger than my 27-year-old son. I’m answering questions like a manager when I’m applying to stack shelves.
‘I never wanted to do that [but] this has been my life and I will do whatever it takes to save my business.’
She added: ‘I think if the choice was between having Covid or a roof over my head I’d pick Covid every day because without my job, without this shop to come to I don’t know what I’d do anymore.’
Huxley later tweeted the webcast, saying it was ‘utterly heartbreaking’.
She wrote: ‘If you do one thing today…watch the raw emotion displayed by agent Kate Harris of Inspired Travel on this webcast about the Chancellor’s Job Support Scheme & more. There will be many more agents just like Kate. #SaveFutureTravel’
Another agent painted a similar picture of her own business, @julie_travel wrote: ‘This is the reality of what is happening to previously successful travel businesses. I don’t have premises but haven’t earned a penny since March and now looking at a raft of Lapland bookings possibly cancelling. It’s heartbreaking.’
Harris said she’d hoped in March to back ‘up and running’ by August but was now hoping for a surge in bookings next spring instead.