TWO top tourism businesses are shedding staff amid warnings that the industry is being “hit incredibly hard” by the Covid crisis.

Haven – which has four sites in Dorset including Poole’s Rockley Park – is making an unspecified number of jobs redundant amid the “seismic effect” of the pandemic.

And Swanage Railway has been driven to axe eight jobs, with coronavirus reducing the railway’s turnover by two-thirds.

Robin Barker, spokesman for the South West Tourism Alliance and organiser of the Dorset Tourism Awards, said: “Tourism and hospitality continues to be the industry hardest hit by government lockdowns, despite the evidence that only a tiny proportion of infections stem from the industry.

"The stream of restrictions, many of them announced without warning and in some cases without scientific justification, have hit the sector incredibly hard and many businesses will simply not survive into 2021.”

Haven Holidays owns Rockley Park as well as the Weymouth Bay, Littlesea and Seaview parks in Weymouth. Parent company Bourne Leisure said it was consulting over a “streamlined” structure.

It said the jobs at risk in Dorset would be finalised after redeployment options were examined.

A spokesperson said: “The pandemic has had a seismic effect on the tourism and hospitality sector and we are saddened that it is leading to significant change and jobs being at risk. As a company, we are committed to redeploying as many of our highly valued team members as possible to other roles within our brands.

“We have shared our proposals and priorities for 2021 and beyond with team members, with an improved focus on guest experience. We are consulting with our team on these proposals over the coming weeks.

"Whilst this is extremely difficult for our team, we believe the proposed structure will allow us to emerge from this pandemic in a position to move forward strongly and continue to offer our millions of guests a fantastic UK holiday.”

One holiday home owner told the Daily Echo: “I’m totally sympathetic to the staff. They work very hard.

“Any streamlining of what they do is going to have an impact on the services they’re going to provide to their owners. They’re not going to be asking us to reduce the money we pay to them for the services they provide.”

Swanage Railway makes urgent SOS

The board of Swanage Railway Company is making six compulsory redundancies after an offer of voluntary redundancy found only two takers.

Chairman Gavin Johns has said turnover this year was projected to be around 33 per cent of 2019 levels.

Mr Johns said the board had decided that "the small number of voluntary redundancies received from staff did not address the issues sufficiently".

He aded: "The board has therefore taken the decision to secure, in compliance with statutory procedures, a further six compulsory redundancies. A total of eight employees will be leaving our employment over the coming weeks.

"These roles being made redundant are spread across the railway company and trust in the areas of business development, sales and marketing, catering, permanent way, operations, locomotive carriage and wagon departments and museums."

After the first lockdown, the heritage line launched its Save Our Service appeal, which has raised £329,359. At the time, a railway spokesman said: "It is no exaggeration to say that the Swanage Railway, which contributes more than £15million to the Purbeck economy every year, is fighting for its very existence."

Robin Barker of the South West Tourism Alliance said there were “winners and losers” in the sector.

“Businesses that can react fast, especially those in rural locations with plenty of opportunities for social spacing and outdoor activities, have tended to be those with the best prospects. Small cafes and pubs, as well as hotels in larger conurbations and those dependant on the business, wedding and event markets have seen dire effects – and many of these will simply not survive,” he added.

“As always at times of crisis, the healthiest looking businesses are those that are quickest on their feet, looking ahead, are well financed, are able to react fast, have adopted latest technology and are in constant communication with customers and colleagues.”