The industry should lobby for “backing for bookings” via a revenue replacement scheme, an MP has urged.
It comes after the Liberal Democrats approached TTG to host a roundtable featuring voices from across the travel industry following TTG’s campaigning to #SaveTravel.
Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, joined the discussion which featured 11 individuals from across the sector:
• Mark Tanzer – chief executive, Abta
• Janice Hogarth – secretary,The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association
• Paul Dayson – owner, Spa Travel
• Lee Hunt – managing director, Deben Travel
• Giles Hawke – chief executive, Cosmos Tours
• Gemma Antrobus – chair of Aito Agents and owner of Haslemere Travel
• Chris Wright – managing director, Sunvil
• Mark Swords – co-owner, Swords Travel
• Julia Lo Bue Said – chief executive, Advantage Travel Partnership
• Phil Nuttall – managing director of The Travel Village
• Gordon Dewar – chief executive, Edinburgh Airport
Jardine listened to agents and operators outline the effects the 12-month shutdown had had on their businesses.
She also said agents should highlight their role as part of the service sector, rather than as just retailers.
“It is worrying, the scale of the debt that is coming out of this,” she said. “The bottom line is the government has not taken the travel sector into account sufficiently.”
She said there was a need for a revenue replacement scheme to offset months of lost and cancelled bookings.
“If you could persuade the government to put some backing for bookings… It does seem to me a lot of the debt you face is through having no fallback when bookings are cancelled."
Deben Travel’s Lee Hunt said a revenue replacement scheme would help “because we could demonstrate what we were going to earn and that we are viable businesses”.
Agents had to remain open during the pandemic, he said, unlike other businesses which were able to close and claim grants.
“Don’t call us retail, we are a service industry, we have to open,” he said.
Jardine said the issues that had been highlighted most often during the roundtable were “debt” and the need for “clarity and consistency” from government.