UK independent travel agent Hays Travel has created 1,500 new jobs and apprenticeships at its high street stores and head office.

The family-run business, which acquired Thomas Cook’s high street stores in October, will be offering 200 new jobs at its head office in Sunderland and 500 jobs handling foreign currency in each of the new Hays Travel stores across the country.

The travel agent has employed 2,330 former Thomas Cook employees so far and is continuing to recruit workers for the previous 450 Thomas Cook stores that have opened in the last six weeks. Hiring the additional workers will take Hays Travel workforces to 5,700 employees.

Hays Travel managing director John Hays said: “We’re further increasing staffing to ensure we have the highest customer service levels across all of our stores and our head office functions. These are fantastic permanent career opportunities for people who want to take a step into an exciting industry where every day is different.

“You don’t necessarily need travel experience – just an enthusiasm for travel, a good head for numbers for the foreign exchange posts and some customer service experience of any kind would be helpful.”

For employees that have not worked in the travel industry before, the Hays Travel Academy will offer comprehensive training in time for a new job at Christmas. Apprentices will start a two-year apprenticeship programme to start their travel career.

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“I’m delighted that we will create 200 more permanent jobs in the heart of Sunderland’s city centre, joining 500 people already at our newly opened head office building. They will have the same empowerment and trust that we give all of our colleagues.

The travel agent has legal access to workers that previously worked for Thomas Cook shops and are in discussions with UK landlords to extend and expand the leases beyond their existing terms with many being for several years.