The government’s Tourism Recovery Plan has come under fire from senior industry leaders, who voiced their frustrations over its “lack of tangible policies”.
The Save Future Travel Coalition - comprising 16 trade organisations and associations including Abta, Advantage, Aito, Clia, the SPAA and TTNG - has written to culture secretary Oliver Dowden following the report’s publication last month, branding its outlook “disappointing”.
Concerns were also raised with a statement in the plan describing how ministers aimed to “embrace” current restrictions on overseas travel as an “opportunity” by “boosting domestic demand”.
On page 14, the report reads: “…given this global competition, the UK must focus on stimulating domestic tourist demand in the short term – starting with a Great British Summer – and attracting new and returning international tourists as overseas travel becomes possible again.”
The coalition emphasised how the outbound tourism sector is worth more than £37 billion and supports more than 500,000 UK jobs and stressed the importance of retaining international connectivity to help Britain’s economic recovery from Covid.
Proposals from the group to the government include establishing “without delay” an “inter-ministerial group for tourism” – broadening the sector’s voice within Westminster and operating “a coordinated approach” to travel and tourism between the UK’s four nations.
Better resourced borders to handle passenger volumes and more affordable Covid testing were also called for and a need to include fully vaccinated overseas visitors to the UK within the same quarantine exemption rules afforded to Brits.
The coalition is also urging for the culture secretary to ask the Treasury for travel and tourism businesses to be “a priority case” for funding and financial support while government constraints on trading are imposed.
Abta’s public affairs manager, Emma Wade, said: “The Tourism Recovery Plan lacks many policies the industry is so desperate to see.
“We urge the secretary of state and his colleagues to engage with businesses and organisations across the travel and tourism industry to rectify that oversight, and to ensure that the plan continues to evolve in the coming weeks and months.”