Abta chief Mark Tanzer has reiterated suing government is an avenue Abta can pursue to get the travel industry the support it needs to survive the coronavirus crisis.
Addressing Abta’s Travel Matters conference on Tuesday (22 June), Tanzer said there were legal channels the association could continue to pursue to challenge the government.
"Did it [the government] decide the sector wasn’t worthy of support?" said Tanzer, who promised to keep up the pressure on ministers.
Aviation and maritime minister Robert Courts had been due to address the conference, but Tanzer revealed he pulled out due to a "diary clash" last week.
Tanzer said the decision was "disappointing", and reiterated the association’s long-standing call for a dedicated representative in Westminster for outbound travel.
"We interact with many government departments," said Tanzer, noting how Global Travel Taskforce responsibilities lay with the Department for Transport, financial protection with the Department for Business, and testing and quarantine with the Department of Health and the Home Office.
"Who is looking after travel?" said Tanzer. "Somebody needs to be there batting for the outbound sector, not just for businesses but for people who travel abroad – who is putting their interests as citizens?"
Tanzer said Abta had been making the case to the Treasury for tailored financial support "for months". "The urgency is increasing," he said. "The more of this summer season that is lost because of [travel] restrictions and advice, the more perilous the situation becomes.
"This is not us crying wolf, businesses will fail."
Earlier this year, Abta surveyed members and found many had less than six months’ cash left. "If new money isn’t coming in with customers booking and travelling, businesses will fail. It’s an economic and more point that support is needed at this stage.
"We’re desperate, we’ve got members who are at the point of failure. These are real human stories. Language like government ’embracing’ travel restrictions is painful.
"Every day we lose is another day’s lost revenue."