The Business Travel Association has called for an extension of the furlough scheme, warning half of all jobs in the sector are “at serious risk”.
In a speech to the BTA’s virtual conference, chief executive Clive Wratten warned members of the “seismic consequences” for the sector of the 14-day quarantine, and the prospect that travel corridors will focus on leisure destinations despite a growing pent up demand for business travel.
The BTA has lobbied the Treasury, urging it to extend the furlough scheme for the business travel sector “well beyond” October.
Wratten said: “One in two jobs in the business travel sector are at real risk. The blunt force of quarantine has made the UK a closed island – especially for business travellers – and our government is not listening carefully enough to the grave challenges our sector is facing. They need to wake-up quickly.”
The BTA has urged the government to introduce travel corridors and pilot testing on arrival for business travellers.
He added: “We have made it very clear to the transport secretary, and the home secretary, that travel corridors cannot just focus on tourism. Business travel hotspots such as Amsterdam, Paris and Hong Kong must be included. Without effective and focused business travel we will jeopardise the £220 billion our industry contributes to UK GDP each year.”
Wratten concluded: “This government - and our economy - cannot allow the destruction of the business travel sector to be a lasting legacy of Covid-19. Extending the furlough scheme will be both a saviour for our industry’s jobs and a solid investment in much needed growth.”
Wratten’s speech to BTA members was given online in place of the Association’s originally planned conference in Belfast.