UK Hospitality Urges Government To Save Travel Sector
Organisations from every part of the UK inbound and outbound travel industry have penned an open letter to the government that highlights the urgent need for support in the sector. The Save Future Travel Coalition has urged government officials to provide tailored finical support for the UK trade industry in next month’s Budget.
Travel Weekly reports that the coalition, which is made of up to 12 different travel organisations, have argued that the needs for financial support has become critical as travel firms head towards 12 months of lost revenue, and deadlines for government-backed loans and the end of furlough looming in April.
The travel industry has not had much opportunity to operate or generate income within the past year, as the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting travel as early as January 2020, and the increase in restrictions since then have severely limited trade.
In their letter, the coalition urged the government to take the following actions:
- Expand the grant schemes available to support all travel businesses. Existing grants schemes do not address the trading consequences of severe restrictions on international travel. With the vaccine rollout progressing well, companies need help to bridge the gap and survive through to recovery.
- Extend other financial support mechanisms, such as furlough, VAT deferrals, business rates relief, loan re-payments, into the next financial year. The furlough scheme must be extended in recognition that travel will likely restart gradually. To save jobs, salary support must be kept in place until recovery in the sector is gathering pace.
- Enable travel businesses to trade their way out of the crisis in the coming months. The government must work with the industry to put in a place a roadmap to recovery, which ensures stability for travellers and travel companies, and crucially, which uses existing mitigation measures to ensure travel can resume in a risk-controlled manner.
The coalition has put forward the argument that public health is the priority, and it fully understands the restrictions put in place by the government are necessary to stop the spread of the virus and new variants entering the country.
However, it says that comments from senior ministers about not booking summer holidays are misjudged and it is too early to make such predictions which only serve to further erode consumer confidence.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, up to one in sis jobs within the travel sector have been lost or put at risk, and travel aims of all sizes have been faced to stop trading. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, the travel sector has been hit the hardest, with revenues down by 90 per cent from February to October last year.
Unlike other sectors such as hospitality, culture and the arts, the government has not provided any tailored financial support to help the industry get through the crisis.
The Save Future Travel Coalition – formed of ABTA – The Travel Association, Advantage Travel Partnership, AITO – The Specialist Travel Association, ANITA, ATAS, the BTA, CLIA, Keep Travel Alive, the SPAA, SBiT, the Travel Network Group and UKinbound – also says that the travel industry cannot wait for a full rollout of the vaccine before people start travelling again.
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