Aito chiefs have urged the chancellor to address a “ghastly perfect storm” of issues threatening the outbound travel sector brought about by “a complete lack” of government understanding or consultation with the industry.
Writing to Rishi Sunak on behalf of the association’s 220 members, Aito leaders gave an urgent plea for action to “prevent the destruction” of the UK’s outbound industry.
Aito chair Chris Rowles, deputy chair Derek Moore, chair of Aito’s Specialist Travel Agents group Gemma Antrobus and its deputy chair Ted Wake, issued a number of requests to avoid the loss of
100,000s of outbound travel jobs.
The group called for Sunak, who has repeatedly stated his intentions to end the furlough scheme later this year, to vouchsafe staff salaries either in full or in part due to the immense workload many travel firms have had to contend with while receiving little to no income.
“That would deliver on so many fronts – personal pride for those working, and hopefully the survival of their workplaces in the longer term,” Aito said.
The letter also urged a resolution to the “significant mismatch” of messaging between Foreign Office travel advice – effectively banning operators from offering certain destinations – and the Department for Transport allowing airlines to continuing flying to them.
“It makes no sense to have different rules for interrelated sectors of the travel industry,” the letter outlined.
Ahead of September’s Atol renewals, Aito also called for Sunak to step in and provide an incentive for bond providers to return to the market.
The group also questioned how travel firms without new revenue coming in would be expected to pay back their government-backed loans and requested a half-hour meeting to explain the complexities of the outbound sector.
“A face-to-face meeting would help greatly; we report to five government departments - none of which confers with the others,” Aito urged.
“Please listen to our urgent plea for help and take action to prevent the destruction of what is part of the largest industry worldwide, the formerly vibrant UK outbound travel industry.”