Pay for standard new travel jobs jumped by 7.45% per cent last year to £24,789, latest figures show.

This was the fourth successive year of annual salary growth following rises of 5.41% in 2017, 5.52% in 2016 and by 5.27% in 2015.

Overall, average travel salaries rose again in 2018 with a 3.16% annual rise to £26,854, following successive small increases of 1.58% in 2017, 1.80% in 2016 and 1.46% in 2015.

Salaries for executive jobs in travel paying above £40,000 rose by 1.87% in 2018 to an average of £55,603 after edging up by 0.87% in 2017 and 1.53% in 2016.

However, executive pay remains below the annual peak of £58,418 seen in 2014, according to a survey of travel sector salaries for 2018 by C&M Travel Recruitment and C&M Executive Recruitment.

The north-south wage gap narrowed markedly last year to its smallest point in at least seven years. Travel salaries in the north of the UK jumped by 6.93% to reach an average of £23,495, while wages in the south dipped marginally by 0.26% or £72 to £27,926.

This meant that the average travel employee in the south earned 17.23% more than a worker in the north. The wage gap stood at 24.11% in 2017, 21.86% in 2016, 19.19% in 2015, 17.97% in 2014, 20.14% in 2013 and 22.99% in 2012, according to the figures.

The number of travel vacancies fell by seven per cent in 2018 after a big rise of 23% the previous year. There was also a 14% fall in travel candidates last year after they rose by 40% in 2017.

However, both figures remain historically high, with candidate numbers standing at their second highest annual amount since the index began in 2012, according to C&M.

The average new travel job came with an average salary of £27,161 in December, marginally down on the previous month’s figure by 0.34% or £92 but was up by 10.29% year-on-year.

Similarly, the standard new travel job offered £25,845 last month, up just 0.22% from November but 18.53% ahead of December 2017.

The traditionally quiet month of December saw candidate numbers fall to their lowest level in three years with a 60% dip from November. The number of vacancies fell to its lowest level since December 2016 following a 54% monthly fall.

C&M director Barbara Kolosinska said: “It was a good year for travel wages and, with a 3.2% annual increase, they rose well above the rate of inflation.

“But more impressive was the 7.5% jump in pay for standard new travel jobs, meaning this is the fourth straight year where we’ve seen an annual wage increase above five per cent.

“Activity levels fell from 2017’s record year, but candidate numbers are at the second highest level we’ve seen and the number of new travel jobs remains above 2016’s total, so it is still a very healthy and competitive market.

“However, there continues to be a shortage of experienced, quality candidates and this looks to remain the case well into 2019, so we expect many travel companies to look to improve their recruitment package where possible in a bid to attract the best.”