Off Broadway Travel hopes its long-awaited meeting with transport secretary Grant Shapps has created more understanding about how travel agencies have been affected by the government’s travel policies.
Shapps promised to visit the Hertfordshire agency, which is in his Welwyn Hatfield constituency, earlier this year after he appeared to call agents a thing of the past at a government press briefing in May – sparking anger among the trave trade.
The cabinet minister fulfilled his promise on Friday (19 July) when he spent around 50 minutes at Off Broadway Travel meeting partners Paul Rice, Tricia Conroy-Smith and Natalie Bennett. Shapps also met with Advantage Travel Partnership’s Julia Lo Bue-Said last week.
Rice told TTG that they were able to explain to Shapps the impact of constant changes to the traffic light system and how the industry needed sector-specific financial support.
“He was very personable – he sat and listened to us, and the fact he gave us his time was good,” said Rice. “We talked about sector-specific support and the traffic light system. We got our points across and he took them onboard.
“These things are not just down to him. But by explaining what our issues are, we hope that if he’s in a meeting in the not-too-distant future then he might remember what that travel agent said, and he could be in a situation where he can raise an argument for us.”
Rice added that Shapps told them he would be speaking to the Treasury about issues such as sector-specific support and extending the furlough scheme for the travel industry.