Abta has protested to government about levels of support given to retail travel agents ahead of the 12 April reopening.
The association has written to officials at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to protest at levels of grant support available to the retail travel industry in England, which it said “seem at odds with those provided to other business sectors”.
Restart Grants, recently announced by the chancellor, are to be allocated to businesses based on the category they fall into, such as non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure and personal care.
Retail travel agents fall into the first category, meaning they are eligible for grants up to £6,000 depending on rateable values. However, Abta pointed out to BEIS that while agents can open from 12 April, they will not receive any new income “for many weeks at least”.
“Not only is it currently illegal to travel overseas, government guidance issued earlier this week stated that customers should not book overseas holidays for the time being,” Abta said.
“Other businesses are eligible to receive grants of up to £18,000, despite being able to welcome customers and generate new income.
“Abta has made clear to the department that this is a growing source of frustration and anger among its members and the wider travel industry and has asked for an explanation of the rationale behind the decision.”
Luke Petherbridge, Abta’s director of public affairs, said: “It seems illogical that financial support is being funnelled towards businesses that will not only be open from next week but, in the case of hairdressers for example, are likely to be in very high demand from the off, while travel businesses that will continue to have significant constraints on their trade are offered lower levels of support.
“Unlike in Scotland or Northern Ireland, travel businesses in England have not received any sector-specific support in recognition of the unique circumstances our sector is in.
“Meanwhile, the level of business support offered by the Welsh government has been based on revenue loss, which has meant better comparative outcomes for many businesses.”
He said Abta would press for sector-specific help following the latest ‘don’t book a holiday’ message from government this week.
“In addition, we are in contact with the Devolved Administrations around the need to keep financial support under review and the importance of a four-nations approach to restart.”