Abta believes “normally successful” travel businesses are at risk of collapsing if the government does not step in urgently.
The association is seeking short-term support for the industry, without which it says “perfectly viable and normally successful UK travel businesses employing tens of thousands of people are at risk of going bankrupt”.
Travel businesses are working around the clock to manage arrangements for customers in-destination, including repatriation, and have been trying to provide alternative arrangements for those with imminent departures, but this is becoming increasingly difficult as the virus spreads, Abta said.
Travel agents and tour operators are also facing a huge drop in bookings.
Because of the unique circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, Abta is calling for temporary changes to the UK Package Travel Regulations at European and UK government level, with immediate effect.
Abta says the existing financial protection structures and regulations were not designed to cope with a large-scale collapse of businesses.