Grant Shapps will visit Off Broadway Travel in his Welwyn constituency after the agency invited him to visit and learn more about the challenges agents have faced over the past year.
TTG Top 50 agency Off Broadway’s invitation came after transport secretary Shapps appeared to brand agents a thing of the past at a government press briefing earlier this month (7 May), sparking ire throughout the trade.
Agents across the country responded by sending Shapps pictures of their agencies, highlighting the strength of the UK’s independent travel agency sector and their frustration with a perceived lack of support from government during the Covid crisis.
His remarks also drew criticism from Abta, who described them as "ill-judged and ill-informed".
Appearing on BBC Three Counties radio on Monday (17 May), Shapps addressed his comments. “Some [travel agents] misunderstood what I was saying at the press conference, which was simply [that] people book their travel in many different ways.
"Travel agents are a fantastic way to book and have been through a hell of a difficult time over this past year. And I think there’s been a bit of misunderstanding about some phrase I used."
Shapps made the comments while delivering the full details of the government’s traffic light system, and revealing the UK’s first Covid travel "green list".
Off Broadway invited him to visit to learn more about the reality of being an agent in the Covid era, and how the sector would contribute to restarting the £37 billion overseas travel industry.