Agents joined colleagues from across the industry to demand urgent help for the industry before it is too late during a series of Travel Day of Action lobbies around the UK.
Hundreds of agents, operators and airline staff descended on Westminster, Holyrood in Edinburgh and Stormont in Belfast during Travel Day of Action on Wednesday (23 June), demanding a quicker reopening of international travel and the provision of sector-specific financial support.
Martyn Sumners, executive director of Aito, said “companies will go bust” if the government doesn’t provide tailored support for the industry.
“It really shows the industry is united together and is really working hard to lobby the government,” he said.
“We are desperate for the government to realise that without travel, there is no income. These companies desperately need some sector-specific support – the government needs to listen and to take account of what we really need and to try and deliver some of these funds.”
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who sits on parliament’s transport committee, said the travel industry had been “completely abandoned by this government”.
“The government is now pursuing a totally non-evidence-based approach to travel.
"Europe has opened up – Europeans are free to travel, Americans are free to travel but we are still incarcerated on Boris Johnson’s prison island,” added Bradshaw.
Agent Stuart Swords, from Swords Travel in Wimbledon, took to Westminster’s College Green to voice his concerns.
“This is an amazing thing that everyone is doing to bring the travel industry together, to ask for support from our government. We can’t wait for support, we need support now,” he said.
Brian Young, managing director of G Adventures, emphasised the length of time the travel industry has been “at a standstill” during the pandemic.
“It worries me that the traffic light system failed within the first three weeks of operating," he said.
"We have to have a system that works, especially given the fact we have one of the best vaccination roll-outs in the world. We cannot continue to be put on hold.”
Mike Batt, chair of Internova Travel Group, said the UK outbound travel industry had been on “house arrest” since March 2020.
“The industry cannot remain in this oblivion for any longer as the consequences of delaying the reopening of UK travel would be severe and would have a worldwide ripple effect across the entire travel eco-system,” he added.
“It is unacceptable to expect travellers to be at the behest of a government that chooses to lurch in and out of travel guidance at a moment’s notice.”