Abta is reiterating its call for tailored government support for the travel industry, as ONS figures show it is the sector worst hit by the pandemic.
Travel agents and tour operators have been worst hit by the pandemic compared to any other services sector, according to the ONS figures published today.
Yet unlike other sectors such as hospitality and the arts, it has had no tailored support from the UK government.
The figures, about coronavirus and the impact on output in the UK economy for October 2020, show travel agents and operators are 90% down on where they were in February 2020.
In light of the data, Abta is reiterating its calls to the government in Westminster, as well as the Welsh government, and Northern Ireland Executive, on the need to support the travel industry – "not only to help preserve jobs and businesses, but also in recognition of the important role the travel industry will play in the economic recovery across the entire country".
Abta also wants the Foreign Office to review its approach to travel advice, as the government is currently advising against all but essential travel to the majority of destinations. It is encouraging the government to allow for travel to countries where infection rates are comparable to or lower than the UK and where they have developed public health responses to the pandemic.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said: “While the recent developments around a vaccine and test to release have provided a boost to consumer confidence, with more enquiries and interest in booking holidays for next summer and into 2022, the start of 2021 will still be very challenging for the industry.
“All of the travel industry is struggling, but for some parts, like ski and long-haul operators, the coming months will be even more difficult. Nine months into this crisis, and with the ONS now clearly showing we’ve been the hardest hit service sector in the UK, travel businesses need help to get through the difficult months ahead.
“The government also needs to ease its travel advice, allowing people to travel more freely. Yesterday the Scottish government led the way by introducing specific funding for the travel industry – the UK government, as well as those in Wales and Northern Ireland, needs to follow suit.”