The UK is at “risk of falling behind” international competitors due to the lack of specific sector support from the government for the travel industry during the pandemic.
The Save Future Travel Coalition, which is made up of 12 travel organisations including Abta, SPAA, Aito and Clia, has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak to again plead for “tailored” financial help for both the outbound and inbound travel sectors in next month’s budget.
The coalition highlights the move by competitors such as France and Italy to create specific support packages for their travel industries, plus the “growing level of disparity” within the UK as the Scottish and Northern Ireland devolved administrations have announced funding schemes for travel agents, but England has not followed suit.
The letter to Sunak points out the “devastating” disruption to the travel industry during the Covid crisis – illustrated by the fact that constantly shifting government policies meant there was just one three-week period where Britons could visit the whole of Spain, the UK’s most popular holiday destination, between March 2020 and January 2021.
Abta’s chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Government policies to curtail international travel have had a devastating impact on the industry.
“Despite its significance to the UK economy and its recovery, travel has become the forgotten sector, and businesses are running on empty due to a lack of tailored financial support from the UK government.
“The chancellor has an opportunity to address this in his budget. Supporting the sector through this time of crisis will payoff for the taxpayer and the wider economy.”
The coalition wants the chancellor to expand grant schemes to support all travel firms, extend existing programmes such as furlough, VAT deferrals, business rates relief and loan repayments into the next financial year, and work with the industry to put in a place a “roadmap to recovery”.