The travel industry’s “resilience” during the pandemic may have allowed the government to ignore its pleas for sector-specific support.
Constant calls for specific financial support to help the industry have fallen on deaf ears in Westminster over the past year, and some have said that any prospect of securing this kind of backing from government may be over.
Speakers at the latest Elman Wall online seminar on Thursday (8 April), entitled One Year On: Recovery at Last?, agreed that the relatively small number of failures within the travel industry since the crisis started may have worked against the calls for sector support.
John de Vial, Abta’s director of membership and financial services, said that the association had only seen 24 failures out of a 1,000-strong membership. The CAA has seen around 30 failures, although most of these are the same companies as Abta.
“24 failures is more than enough. But given it’s been a year of shutdown, it’s quite extraordinary [the number is so low] in a global crisis,” added de Vial.
“The government is thinking they are getting through it and going to survive this. The government understands that if a substantial part of the summer is lost, then that can change. But they are not blinking yet.”
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, added: “The resilience of the industry has not played in our favour. They see us as an industry that will come out of it.
“We have to be cognisant of the way the government thinks, even if we don’t agree.”
Lo Bue-Said added that it was still important to “keep banging the drum” by lobbying for sector-specific support, even if it was “very difficult with the way the government looks at the industry”.
But Aito chairman Chris Rowles said the “time to rant about specific support is over”.
“The time to expect specific support has probably gone,” he told the webinar. “You can only bang your head against the same wall a certain number of times. Unless something fundamental changes, that’s where we are.
“The government doesn’t care and we are on our own. We’ve got to row our own boat to get out of this.”