Bigger travel companies have a “responsibility” to pay smaller firms on time to avoid a “catastrophic” knock-on effect to the industry.

Laurence Hicks, chairman of touring and adventure aggregator TourHound, said one of the biggest challenges facing many firms in the midst of the coronavirus crisis was collecting money.

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He said: “A challenge many businesses are going to face is the task of collecting money owed to them by debtors of all shapes and sizes. Many businesses have simply stopped paying anyone as they prioritise their cash-flow and plan their survival.

“Whilst one will appreciate the desire to ensure that your personnel are looked after and they will be one’s priority, I do feel that bigger to larger businesses who are stable and solvent have a responsibility to ensure that payments to smaller suppliers who rely on (what may seemingly appear to be) small amounts of money to survive are made.

“Some businesses are just being told that ‘all payments are being frozen currently’ or are ‘under review’ and for businesses that have carried out a historical service or who have facilitated bookings for operators where clients have departed deserve at least to be paid promptly to help them through these difficult times.

“If the flow of historic debt or commission payments is not fulfilled in a timely way, the knock-on effect to smaller businesses down the line will be catastrophic.”

Writing for Travel Weekly, Hicks predicted a lack of demand for travel “this side of autumn” and urged travel firms to focus efforts on 2021 bookings.

He urged firms to use the current lockdown period to stay in touch with their customers and plan for the return of demand, and forecast that there will be “light at the end of the tunnel”.