Abta has written to Boris Johnson demanding an update on the government’s action to address “the specific challenges” facing the travel industry.
The association called for a “coordinated strategy supported by specific measures and clear communication” by Westminster to help the travel sector - in particular travel agents and tour operators.
Abta said the travel industry contributes more than £37 billion annually to the UK economy, supporting 500,000 jobs, and as a result, any damage caused by the coronavirus crisis would “affect every region of the country”.
In the letter, Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer says government must make difficult decisions and he puts forward some practical steps that, if taken, could be the difference between tens of thousands of jobs surviving or being lost.
As during his transport select committee appearance on 16 May, Tanzer stressed the scale of the challenges tour operators and travel agents are facing - including FCO advice against all but essential travel, uncertainty regarding the approach to lockdown in different destinations and the ongoing problems with refunds.
Abta’s steps include ensuring any quarantine measures that are proposed are part of a wider strategy, including consideration of FCO travel advice, while it is also calling for any measures introduced to be based on health and scientific advice and be "proportionate, targeted and limited only to what is necessary to protect public health", and communicated clearly.
Providing guidance and clarity on refunds for package holidays is also needed, Abta urges, including confirming clearly and publicly Refund Credit Notes covering Atol package holidays with flights are financially protected.
Government should also be working with the Association of British Insurers to ensure adequate travel insurance cover is available to customers for when FCO travel restrictions start to be lifted.
“We understand the government must make difficult decisions and we’re grateful for the business support measures it has introduced to date, but our concern is that these will not be enough to avoid large scale job losses and business failures in the travel industry which will impact every region in the UK,” said Tanzer.
“Abta is eager to contribute to government efforts because we need a strategic and coordinated approach, supported by practical steps to save future travel and aid its recovery. The success of the government’s plan for recovery will depend on the return of consumer confidence which requires clear and consistent communication.”
The letter also highlights the need for government to indicate its criteria for the transition from the current FCO advice against non-essential global travel to the re-opening of travel to destinations.
Ahead of the transport select committee hearing with the CAA and aviation minister on Wednesday (20 May), Abta expressed its “extreme disappointment” at the government’s failure to make “any statement” on consumer financial protection in the Covid-19 crisis, which it said was “creating consumer confusion and placing increased strain on agents and operators”.