Reading: Online travel company secures HSBC CBILS loan

HalalBooking, an online travel booking company headquartered in Reading, has received a £1.6 million Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) loan from HSBC UK. The loan has enabled the company to protect 53 local jobs and ensure it can adjust to remote working while continuing to offer advice to customers during this uncertain time.

Founded in 2014, HalalBooking is the world’s leading search and booking website for halal-friendly travel, specialising in international travel and accommodation for halal-conscious family holidaymakers. In 2019, HalalBooking had over 120,000 customers from 105 countries. However, when the travel industry closed suddenly due to Covid-19, the business had to rapidly change its operations.

The seven-figure funding from HSBC UK has provided vital support to HalalBooking, helping to cover business costs, pay staff and avoid staff layoffs. The funding has also helped the business continue running its website and prepare for when customers were able to travel again.

As the travel industry begins to reopen and restrictions begin to lift, the loan also supports HalalBooking by continuing to cover business costs as they began to resume holiday bookings since June.

Elnur Seyidli, chief executive of HalalBooking, said: “The last few months has had a huge impact on our earnings and growth and we anticipate that the next few months will continue to be challenging, even as we start to see bookings rapidly return. The CBILS loan from HSBC UK has put HalalBooking in a position to be able to support staff and continue with our online presence during the pandemic. We believe we’re in a strong place to recover and feel confident that we will be bounce back and resume our rapid growth by the year-end.”

Cameron Rathwell, area director and head of Corporate Banking in Thames Valley, HSBC UK, commented: “HalalBooking has adapted quickly and efficiently throughout the pandemic and it’s fantastic to see bookings started to return in June. The loan ensures that the company can navigate the next few months and continue to be there for customers during these uncertain times.”