Abta is urging agents to invite their local MPs into their shops to tell them about the hardship they’ve faced over the past 15 months – and reiterate the value of having a quality, independent travel agent on the high street.
The association’s call comes as it seeks to encourage the trade to up the pressure on parliament ahead of a second debate on levels of government support for the travel industry during the pandemic, fixed for Thursday 10 April.
It has produced an updated range of resources for agents and operators to use to contact their local representatives, including a template email and infographic outlining the realities of Covid era trading. These resources are available from Abta’s Save Future Travel hub.
Abta chief Mark Tanzer, meanwhile, will appear before parliament’s Treasury committee on Monday (7 June). The association has created a short poll for members to gather additional information on their access to government support and the current challenges they face, building on evidence already supplied by the trade.
Luke Petherbridge, Abta’s director of public affairs, said: “It’s really important we encourage as many MPs as possible to attend the debate and speak up for the industry. There is strong support for the sector among parliamentarians, but we need to keep up the pressure on government to act to save the travel industry. MPs will play a really important role in helping to make our case about the value of the sector to government and the need to provide tailored assistance."
Addressing members directly, Petherbridge added: "Inviting your local MP to come into your shop can also be a powerful and extremely effective way of demonstrating the vital role you play in your community and that travel needs the same kind of support that the government has been happy to give to other industries.
"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."
Additionally, Petherbridge said it was vital ministers also focused on assisting the recovery of international travel at upcoming reviews of the traffic light system, and adding more countries to the UK’s green list. Portugal has since been removed from the green list, and seven additional countries added to the red list.
"They should also give serious consideration to relaxing restrictions for travel between low-risk countries and for fully vaccinated individuals," said Petherbridge. "As the summer progresses this will increasingly be the case in many of our most popular overseas destinations and would represent another clear, significant benefit of the successful vaccine roll out in the UK enabling many more to take a much needed and affordable break.”