Abta has called on the government to urgently set out how the travel and tourism sector can access its share of the £350 billion emergency business support funding outlined by the chancellor on Tuesday (17 March).
Rishi Sunak announced a range of measures to support the leisure, hospitality, and retail sectors, including a £330 billion government-backed loan scheme for businesses, as well as further business rate relief and additional measures to support individuals worth in excess of a further £20 billion.
Additional support for the aviation sector, specifically airlines and airports, is expected to be outlined in the coming days following talks with the Department for Transport.
However, Tuesday’s announcement offered little by way of respite from certain existing rules many throughout the travel sector feel are harming businesses chances of survival, such as some of the tenets of the Package Travel Regulations – with both Abta and Aito calling for respite, particularly for SMEs.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said Sunak’s support package was a “positive statement of intent” building on measures outlined in the Budget last week which, while welcome, the government recognised were insufficient as its response to the coronavirus crises escalates.
Tanzer said it was now incumbent on the government to follow through on its commitment to do “whatever it takes” to support the UK’s travel businesses hit hardest by the ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.
“We also need to see some of the measures announced today [Tuesday], such as the government-backed loan scheme, made immediately available to travel businesses, and further clarity on how businesses will be able to access these loans,” said Tanzer.
“It is also essential the government acts immediately by making temporary changes to existing package travel regulations. The existing financial protection structures and processes designed to protect UK consumers were not designed to cope with the demands that are currently being placed on them.”
In addition, a further £20+ billion is being made available through a range of supporting measures, including business rate relief and grant funding, to support “the most-affected firms”, other small businesses and individuals with cash flow.