Travel Counsellors has launched a new campaign, Travel Forward, to press the government to support the sector and for new legislation to protect consumers.
Chief executive Steve Byrne has written to aviation minister Robert Courts and consumer minister Paul Scully to ask for an urgent review of both issues.
“It is time for the government to look forward to provide more support to both travellers and the travel industry,” said Byrne.
“We are calling for two things here; support from the government to help those excluded from the SEISS [Self-Employment Income Support Scheme], such as businesses that have been recently set up and may be operating via limited companies as directors.
“There are around three million of these businesses in the UK, including travel entrepreneurs who have received no financial support during this pandemic and continue to face very challenging months ahead.”
He said that “at the very least, the end of the furlough and SEISS schemes on 30th of April 2021 needs to be reviewed urgently”.
In the letters, Byrne said another urgent change in legislation was needed to give consumers confidence to book, “knowing that if they have to change their flights they will get their money back”.
“The industry needs to offer travellers financial protection whether they book directly or indirectly with an airline.”
Byrne said Travel Counsellors’ community platform “has been the catalyst for over 150 people in the past 10 months to launch their own business”.
“Yet many of these entrepreneurial new business owners are not getting any government support. We have been doing all we can as a business to support those who need it, including financial aid via our own welfare fund, but many do not have any support whatsoever and the government needs to recognise this and act.”
Byrne added: “The government needs to look forward and support travel now. It needs to ensure there are enough travel experts still in business post lockdown to provide a service that will be in great demand and it needs to provide clear regulation to ensure that the industry does not repeat past mistakes.”