COUNCIL bosses have provided much-needed support for travel agents in the borough - with payments totalling £133,000.

Plans to award funding under the Additional Restrictions Grant to travel firms in Bolton will see 22 businesses benefit.

The grants are fully funded by the Government, while the council has been responsible for administering a range of grants to assist businesses during the pandemic.

Some international travel has resumed but travel agents continue to struggle as uncertainty surrounding foreign holidays has resulted in cancellations.

Jackie Griffin, retail director for Althams, said: “Obviously the travel industry has really struggled and it’s been particularly tough for travel agents. We are not actually able to take any money until holidays go ahead, so we are in one of the worst situations in the industry.

“We’ve been especially hard hit as we have to continue staffing shops so that we can deal with cancellations and refunds, even though we can’t take any payments for this.

“There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding travel and restrictions change at the last minute. There’s a lack of confidence and people are unsure about going away – they don’t know whether they will have to isolate or quarantine. The industry won’t bounce back to normal until all of that changes.

Bolton Council has been very good and we are very grateful for this grant.

“This grant makes a massive difference, we are grateful for any support we receive.

“But we do need more tailored support going forward from the government as we have still not fully recovered, it continues to be very tough.

“I do feel optimistic for the future - people definitely want to go away they just need more certainty.”

Don Bircham, of Hays Travel North West, which has three shops in the Bolton area, added: “We were notified about the availability of this grant in England and had applied to all the councils where we have shops and Bolton Council was great and came back to us very quickly.

“This money was made available by the Government for councils to distribute as they saw fit and Bolton was very prompt in responding.”

He confirmed the firm received £18,666 for shops in the town centre, Horwich and Westhoughton.

Council deputy leader Cllr Martyn Cox said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer these grants to local travel businesses. They will give much needed support to an industry that has undoubtedly been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic.”