The UK government still has a “fundamental lack of understanding” of the travel industry, according to the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), following the Budget.
SPAA welcomed “elements” of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget on Wednesday (3 March), such as the extension of furlough arrangements to the end of September which will help its members to retain staff.
But SPAA president Joanne Dooey added: “There still seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding of our industry. Throughout the last 12 months, the travel industry is barely mentioned in terms of support announcements while other sectors such as retail and hospitality are frequently referenced.
“The travel agency sector is not wholly shop-based, and we wait to find out how travel is being classified for the purposes of restart grants.
"Many of our colleagues are homeworkers who run viable and vibrant businesses, yet they are not included in many measures; the eligibility for which seems to rest on bricks and mortar premises.”
Dooey said SPAA would continue to lobby both the UK and Scottish governments to produce a roadmap out of the pandemic for the travel industry, including how testing and vaccination will be used in this process.
Jacqueline Dobson, president of Scottish agency Barrhead Travel, added: “We welcome the news that furlough has been extended until September, as this will be key to safeguarding jobs in travel until border restrictions are lifted and the industry can begin its recovery.
“As we wait in anticipation for further guidance from the Global Travel Taskforce, it is now imperative that this time is used for all four devolved nations to agree a collective response to reopening both inbound and outbound travel.
“Decisions about travel must be made in unison across the UK, as a disjointed approach will further hamper our industry’s recovery during 2021.”
The UK government’s Global Travel Taskforce is due to unveil its proposals on 12 April of how to restart international travel, which will resume on 17 May “at the earliest”.