ABTA calls on government to provide financial aid to travel agents

Published on : Monday, June 7, 2021

ABTA recently called upon the government to provide additional funding to travel agents following the shocking decision to remove Portugal from the list of safe travel destinations. The move effectively closes the outbound travel market from the UK for at least the next three weeks, leaving many agents nursing substantial losses. With the next update to the green, amber and red travel lists expected to arrive soon, ABTA argued for a large-scale reopening of borders.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive, ABTA said in a statement that it is clear that the government’s domestic health strategy is continuing to prevent any meaningful resumption of international travel. He mentioned that the recovery of a multi-billion-pound sector cannot be built while keeping mass market holiday destinations off the green list. He said that the removal of Portugal comes on the back on what was already a very short and cautious green list.

He mentioned that travel agents and tour operators have not been able to generate income since the start of the pandemic and have been depending on the return of international travel to help bring in some much-needed relief. He stated that the government now needs to come forward with tailored financial support for the sector, which recognises that the travel industry’s recovery will be slower than that in other sectors of the economy, and takes account of the unique challenges businesses in the sector are facing.

He said that travel companies are desperately worried that at a time when the market has not opened up, they will shortly face increased furlough and business rates costs, with support being gradually withdrawn from the end of the month. He added that it is vital that the government does not leave these businesses behind as it focuses on the domestic unlocking. He shared that people needs to see the government use the next review of the traffic-light system, on June 28, to deliver meaningful progress towards restart.

Tanzer continues that ministers must use the review to finally take the steps needed to capitalise on the great progress of the vaccine rollout in the UK. He said using the example that many countries have chosen to exempt fully vaccinated individuals from certain travel requirements and mentioned that government should also treat islands separately in the traffic light system and take steps to further reduce the cost of testing.

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