Abta has urged agents and other travel industry stakeholders to keep up the pressure on their local MPs ahead of a second parliamentary debate next month on the challenges facing the sector.
More than 100,000 people signed an Abta petition sparking a debate, held on Monday (24 May), focusing on the level of support the government has provided travel during the Covid crisis.
Several MPs raised the plight of agents during the debate, and showed a nuanced understanding of the issues that their agent constituents and other travel businesses have had to deal with over the past 15 months.
During the debate, Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher highlighted agents’ cash flow issues, as well as their inability to fully utilise the furlough scheme and, in some cases, access government grant support.
He said agents had been "disproportionately impacted" by the crisis, and spoke of his discussions with two travel businesses in his constituency – Ideal Travel and Small World Travel.
Henry Smith, MP for Crawley and chair of the Future of Aviation all-party parliamentary group, will now host a follow-up debate on 10 June focusing on support for aviation, travel and tourism.
Abta has responded by creating updated campaign materials and resources agents and operators can use to lobby their local MPs; these include a template email, briefing note and infographic on the lifecycle of travel bookings.
The resources are available from Abta’s Save Future Travel microsite.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer, meanwhile, will appear before the House of Commons’ Treasury committee on Monday 7 June as part of a session exploring the financial support offered to different sectors in response to the Covid crisis.
The association said it would serve as another opportunity to reiterate its calls for tailored support for travel, and highlight both the likely "slower path to recovery" facing travel businesses and the likelihood of prolonged constraints on travel.
Luke Petherbridge, Abta’s director of public affairs, said: "It’s really important we encourage as many MPs as possible to attend the debate in June and speak up for the industry.
"As we saw from this week’s debate, there is strong support for the sector among parliamentarians, and we need to keep up this momentum to demonstrate to government that they must act to save the travel industry."
Petherbridge said MPs would continue to play an important role in helping travel make its case about the value of the sector to government and the economy, and in persuading them of the need for tailored assistance.
"Even if you were in touch with your MP last week, please do get in touch again," said Petherbridge. "We need MPs to treat our priorities as ongoing concerns and hearing directly from their constituents is crucial part of ensuring they understand the difficulties facing the sector, and the measures that can be taken to save businesses and jobs in the industry.
"We will be doing all we can to make sure as many MPs as possible are aware of the issues facing sector and our main asks for government support – extending employment support and business rates relief and making available recovery grants for travel businesses.
"We will also make clear the need for ministers to focus on facilitating the recovery of international travel ahead of the upcoming reviews into the traffic light system, by opening up more countries to the green list, where health data allows, and by relaxing restrictions for travel between low-risk countries and for fully vaccinated individuals.”