Claims by Grant Shapps the travel industry has received “billions of pounds of support” during the Covid-19 crisis have been slammed by the president of the SPAA.
The transport secretary made the comments during his address at the virtual Abta Travel Convention on Wednesday (14 October) - insisting travel has “perhaps been the most paid out sector” under the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) scheme.
In response, SPAA chief Joanne Dooey said the industry was “bound to wonder if our government has any understanding of what’s happened to our industry”.
She blasted Shapps for speaking to the trade but only referencing “bank loan support for the aviation sector and [ignoring] the hundreds of travel agents across the UK who are facing business ruin and mass staff redundancies as the furlough scheme ends”.
Dooey also took aim at Shapps’ “insensitive” tweet – posted on Tuesday night about a development for the UK’s space industry despite the ongoing crisis travel sector was facing.
“[The tweet] shows just how out of touch he is with our plight and his inability to understand, empathise with or support us,” she said.
"Space flight may be top of his agenda, but getting international travel moving again is surely more important for the entire UK economy than reaching outerspace?
Another giant leap for the UK space sector today \uD83D\uDC47 we’ve listened to industry views on the insurance & charging requirements for spaceflight and are consulting on these \uD83D\uDE80 I’m excited to have us take another step\uD83C\uDFC3towards space launches from British soil https://t.co/gJptwDWao8— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 13, 2020
"In a week which saw the government giving financial support to bar workers and strip club workers, shouldn’t his focus be on helping the industry which enabled him take his family on holiday to Spain this summer?"
Dooey said the "whole travel sector" was awaiting the implementation of a testing programme for entries into the UK.
Despite Shapps updating Abta delegates on moves to introduce a new “test and release regime” to reduce the period of self-isolation, Dooey urged the government to lay out its plans for testing out in full.
“We cannot stress forcibly enough that we need a testing scheme by the end of the year at the latest to restore customer confidence and save the sector,” she stressed.