Shop Local: Dagenham travel agency opened in 1980s may not survive Covid-19 pandemic
- Credit: Archant
“It was one of the best years we’ve ever had and once Covid came, it just fell off a cliff.”
Senior consultant Samantha Ellis and the three-person team at Dagenham Travel know all too well that few industries have been hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic than theirs.
The travel agency just off The Heathway in Reede Road has been helping people go on trips and holidays for 36 years – but 2020 may be its last.
“We don’t know if we’ll have a job at the end of the month,” Ms Ellis said, a few weeks after she and colleague Joanna Kench celebrated 20 years at the agency.
Dagenham Travel, which is part of Worldchoice, offers holiday, flight, cruise, coach and ferry bookings and packages as well as theatre, concert and event tickets.
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Managing director Farley Shelkin originally opened the agency in Broad Street before moving to the current site 15 years ago.
He has experienced been plenty of ups and downs over the decades, but the pandemic is “off the scale” for its impact.
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“We’ve been through September 11, the ash cloud, recession, wars – you name it, we’ve been through it all – but nothing even compares to this,” Mr Shelkin said.
That’s because issues restricting travel are usually limited and short-lived – never before has the enitre industry been grounded indefinitely.
“September 11 was about three months, the ash cloud was a couple of weeks, but there’s no end to this,” Mr Shelkin added.
“Nobody knows when this is going to end and that makes it worse.”
The uncertainty and fear caused by changing Covid-19 regulations and travel corridor arrangements – often at short notice – have put many off travelling and made recovery even more difficult.
“Personally, I don’t think it’s going to pick up until the end of next year,” Ms Ellis said.
“That’s how bad it is – but until they lift all the embargoes and restrictions, nobody wants to travel, you can’t go anywhere.”
Mr Shelkin admitted he doesn’t know what he will do if business doesn’t pick up soon.
“It’s very difficult, I can’t answer that at the moment,” he said.
“If you want to travel, then please support us.”
Visit 2-4 Reede Road, Dagenham RM10 8DP, call 020 8517 5353 or go to travelfinders.co.uk to book.