ABTA is encouraging its members and the wider trade to write to their MPs about the “extreme challenges” facing the travel sector and the urgent need for tailored financial support.
The move follows a letter from ABTA to the prime minister Boris Johnson on 25 January, ahead of further discussions about possible travel restrictions, to reiterate calls for financial help and a recovery roadmap.
Last week the Save Future Travel Coalition also wrote to transport secretary Grant Shapps, outlining considerations for reopening travel.
The template letter calls on MPs to lobby Shapps and the chancellor Rishi Sunak on the following:
- Expanding existing grants schemes, in recognition of the unique regulatory restrictions placed on the travel sector
- Extending other financial support mechanisms, such as furlough, VAT deferrals, business rates relief and loan repayments
- Enabling travel businesses to trade their way out of the crisis, by setting out a plan to build consumer confidence while putting in place mitigation measures to ensure travel can operate in a risk-controlled manner
ABTA director of public affairs Luke Petherbridge said: “This week it is one year since the start of travel restrictions, which started with restrictions on Wuhan (China), but then spread quickly to cover all destinations by March.
“Travel was the first industry in the UK to be affected by this pandemic, and ONS data shows travel agents and tour operators are the hardest hit businesses. However, unlike other sectors such as hospitality, there hasn’t been any tailored financial support for the sector.
“While the vaccine rollout is positive, the industry cannot wait for the whole UK adult population to be vaccinated before travel restarts – and businesses cannot afford to lose another summer. We also know that many people have a desire to get back to experiences that they value highly and have missed dearly, including travel to visit family and friends abroad.
“ABTA will continue to press government for roadmap out of the crisis and I urge members to do the same by getting in touch with their local MP.”
The template is available at abta.com/savefuturetravel.