An agent who met with the chancellor of the exchequer to spell out the industry crisis has said Rishi Sunak “does not get it”.
Sunak agreed to meet Robert Sturdy, of Sturdy Travel in Leyburn, because his business is in the chancellor’s Richmond constituency. The two spoke for 10 minutes at the MP’s regular surgery session.
Sturdy told TTG he was disappointed with the outcome: “The meeting was like watching a TV interview with him or any politician when they listen to your questions but then keep repeating the government line. To sum up, he does not get it.”
Sturdy said he had explained how since March, he’d had “hardly any income” and had had to refund “the majority of the money we have made in the last year/18 months”.
“I also said there was hardly anywhere we can book clients to because of the restrictions. He seemed to think there were plenty of places in Europe we could still travel.
“I am making a list of every European country, with each restriction, and sending it to him.”
The agent told the chancellor the industry appreciated the help given through local government rate grants, furlough and self-employed benefit, but said the industry remained “on a cliff edge because of no income and refunding”.
“I explained how a travel agent worked commission-wise and also explained it was a knock-on effect to operators, etc, when bookings dry up. He kept talking about the grants and the things they have already given everybody.”
Sturdy said Sunak had mentioned the hospitality industry.
“I replied that the hospitality industry is in the news all the time, but they have income coming in and don’t have to refund clients for what they have bought in the past.”
The agent went equipped with written submissions from Abta, Advantage, dnata, TTG and local operator African Pride as well as his own.
“He said he had only had time to read mine. He said he would get back to me after reading them, hopefully he will.”