More than 150 agents, operators and travel associates are expected to march on the Scottish parliament, Holyrood, on Thursday (5 November) to demand tailored support for the country’s travel sector and a strategic plan to "save Scottish travel".
The protest, organised by the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), is scheduled for midday; participants wear Save Scottish Travel face masks, brandish placards and hazard-taped passports, and wave flags of the world outside the parliament building.
According to the SPAA, some 26,000 travel jobs in Scotland – which includes 5,000 high street agency staff and hundreds of homeworkers – are at risk without clear Scottish and UK government strategy and action plans for the resumption of travel.
Around 500 jobs have already been lost since March according to SPAA members, with the association warning the rate of job losses will accelerate "rapidly" if the industry enters a second year with near zero revenue.
Scottish agencies are currently handling only about 10% of the volume of work they would in previous years, with much of this work being administrative – such as rebooking clients and processing refunds – rather than being revenue or profit-generating.
Airport traffic in Scotland, meanwhile, has slumped dramatically; passenger numbers at Edinburgh fell 91% year-on-year between April and September according to the SPAA, with Glasgow’s traffic down 98% on 2019.
The SPAA wants tailored support from government in recognition of the £1.7 billion generated each year by the country’s outbound travel sector, and the £11 billion that comes from inbound visitors. It is also highlighting the importance of global connectivity for the country’s export interests.
Additionally, the SPAA is calling for a "credible, robust and affordable" airport testing regime for Covid to be implemented by Christmas to end what it described as the country’s current "impractical" 14-day quarantine on arrival requirement from many destinations.