Almost two-thirds of travel firms expect to lay off more than 20% of their staff unless the prime minister provides a clear roadmap for re-opening after May 1, according to a new poll.

This would equate to at least half a million jobs being made redundant in a sector that employs more than one in 10 in the UK economy, claims new campaign group Save Our Summer, which conducted the survey on February 15-16.

With furlough set to finish in April, 60% of the 255 respondents polled said they expected to lay off more than 20% of their staff.

More than a third (37%) anticipate having to lose more than 40% of their staff.

Furthermore, three quarters (76%) of the respondents called on the chancellor to extend the furlough scheme. They also want this policy expanded to include companies with just one director employee, of which there are many within the travel sector, who have been unable to claim furlough while having to handle postponements and new bookings.

The campaign said that 15 million people in the UK will have received both jabs by mid-May, with at least 15 million more being protected by their first jab.

With more than 30 million people protected by May, Save Our Summer says it is reasonable to target re-opening travel that month.

Furthermore, with a clear roadmap for travel to resume, 74% of firms said they would hire more employees or rehire those on furlough.

A similar proportion (75%) said their teams had suffered mental health issues due to Covid-19 and the unpredictability of work.

Paul Charles, co-founder of Save Our Summer and chief executive of The PC Agency, said: “These stark findings reflect the severity of a lack of a roadmap for opening up travel.

“The prime minister has an opportunity next week to save a minimum of half a million jobs at risk unless a clear roadmap is given for the summer, and the furlough scheme extended.

“With vital revenues needed, firms are desperate for confidence to be restored otherwise the sector will be a shadow of its former self.”

Henry Morley, co-founder of Save Our Summer and chief executive of True Travel, added: “The prime minister’s positive outlook for the travel sector on Monday is essential, so that consumers can book future business, family-related and leisure trips with clarity and confidence. This will in turn help businesses who, as the poll has found, are on their knees.”

Four days since starting, Save Our Summer now has more than 600 firms, representing £15 billion-plus in revenues.

Supporters who registered include Flight Centre, DialAFlight, Love Holidays, Kirker Holidays, CV Villas, Oliver’s Travels, Travelopia, Carrier, Audley Travel, United Airlines, Finnair, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Celebrity Cruises.