Barrhead Travel has now reopened 25 of its stores across the UK.

The “phased” post-pandemic reopening of its branches began in early July with several stores returning to business each week since.

The Glasgow-based agency says the approach has ensured each location can be opened up safely with full risk assessments, installation of plexiglass screens and social distancing markers and PPE ordered for staff.

Travel agents at branches that remain closed are continuing to serve customers remotely, including virtual appointments and online and telephone support. Some staff remain on furlough.

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The agency has 49 branded Barrhead Travel stores in addition to 46 managed service travel partner stores, which as independent retailers decide their own reopening schedule.

Barrhead Travel started a consultation process with staff last month, and has merged its St Vincent Street branch in Glasgow with its Oswald Street store. A spokeswoman said there were no plans to close any other Barrhead Travel branches as a result of Covid-19.

The firm’s next reopening phase is expected to start in the coming weeks. Offices remain closed with sales support teams continuing to work from home for now.

Jacqueline Dobson, president of Barrhead Travel, said the reopening of its branded stores shows the demand for expert advice.

“The reception each of our stores has received from their local community and customers has been wonderful,” she said. “People are delighted to see their local high streets come alive again and are keen to support them.

“With so much uncertainty about imminent travel, prospective holidaymakers are turning to businesses they trust and, in many cases, that’s their local high street travel agent.

“The situation is changing all the time and it’s important we continue to monitor what is happening around the UK. For example, the local lockdown in Aberdeen last week prompted us to take the decision to temporarily close the store.

“Thanks to being so used to working remotely, it was an easy transition to get our Aberdeen team set-up again from home so we can continue supporting our Aberdeen customers. This flexibility and ability to quickly react is an important part of our reopening strategy.

Speaking about the market, Dobson added: “The U-turn on Spain was disappointing for summer business but our teams are working really hard to help customers get rebooked for later this year or into 2021.

“Summer 2021 is by far the most popular booking period for us right now with many of our customers keen to secure next year’s getaway as early as possible.

Barrhead Travel’s top-selling destinations for 2021 include Orlando, Tenerife, Turkey and Canada and the agency said the Maldives and Mauritius “have also proved popular”.

Dobson said the quarantine issues had dampened customer confidence for late summer getaways but that many holidaymakers still hoped to travel later this year.

“There’s definitely appetite for winter 2020 and we hope that supply will be able to match demand for the likes of the Canaries if that market remains buoyant,” she added. “We also recently launched a new UK breaks programme which has been extremely popular for the months of August and September and we expect to see continued high demand for holidays at home for the duration of 2020 and into 2021.

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