The travel industry is struggling to attract new staff despite a rise in pay in the first half of the year.

Average salaries for a new job in travel went up by 4.65% or £1,230 in the first six months of 2019 after a big rise in wages in the north, new data revealed.

The increase saw average salaries reach £27,690, while pay for standard travel jobs – those which pay up to £40,000 – rose by 1.50% to £24,817 compared to the first six months of last year.

But the number of new travel vacancies and jobseekers both dipped in the period, falling back to levels similar to those in 2016, according to C&M Travel Recruitment and C&M Executive Recruitment.

There was an 11% fall in new travel jobs compared to the first six months of 2018 and a 17% fall from 2017, but 2019’s total was up by 6% from 2016.

And the outlook was slightly worse for candidates, with the number falling by a quarter from last year and 24% from 2017’s record high, but was up by 1% from 2016.

The north led the way with a big wage rise of 6.03% or £1,378 to reach £24,234 in the first half, while salaries stood at £28,899 in the south after a smaller pay increase of 2.19% or £620.

The overall salary rise caused the share of entry-level placements – those paying up to £22,000 – to fall from 38% in 2018 to 34% this year, C&M said.

Meanwhile, the percentage of mid-level placements – those paying between £22,001 and £29,999 – has held steady at 30%.

The number of senior placements – those paying between £30,000 and £39,999 – dipped slightly from 23% to 22%.

However, there has been a big increase in executive placements with the percentage rising from 8% last year to 13% for roles paying more than £40,000.

C&M director  Barbara Kolosinska said: “We’ve seen a big rise in salaries so far this year with the average new travel job now paying nearly 5% more than last year.

“That’s got to be hugely appealing to candidates and will hopefully lead many potential jobseekers to start considering the career possibilities that are out there.

“However, one of the reasons that wages have risen this year is because there continues to be a lack of quality candidates in the market and this is forcing some travel companies to improve their packages and offer higher salaries in order to get the best applicants.

“There has also been a notable increase in executive travel job placements, with roles paying in excess of £40,000 now accounting for 13% of all placements compared to 8% last year.

“This is partly a natural result of wage inflation, but the size of increase suggests that this isn’t the sole factor, so it will be interesting to see if the trend continues throughout the rest of the year.”