ABTA meets Mayor of Greater Manchester to make the urgent case for travel sector support

Published on : Monday, July 12, 2021

The Travel Association has met with Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, to discuss the urgent need for financial support for the region’s travel businesses.

Luke Petherbridge, ABTA’s Director of Public Affairs, and Richard Slater, ABTA North West Chair and Managing Director of Henbury Travel in Macclesfield, explained to Mr Burnham the difficult situation many travel agents, tour operators, and other travel businesses are facing both within the Greater Manchester area and nationally.

With continuing restrictions on international travel, many of travel businesses have little, if any, income, but now face the prospect of making increased contributions to staff furlough costs and business rates. Although international travel is beginning to open up more, the sector has had little income for 16 months and requires additional and specific financial support to help businesses trade through the rest of the pandemic.

The ABTA representatives spoke about the need for the unique circumstances facing travel companies to be understood by politicians as domestic restrictions are relaxed and existing support schemes begin to be withdrawn.

“International travel and tourism is hugely important for the Greater Manchester area and the Government needs to ensure that a risk-based approach is followed to enable people to travel again safely”, said Richard Slater. “Travel businesses will play a vital role in Manchester’s economic recovery, and were not only viable but thriving ahead of the pandemic. They deserve to be supported and mustn’t be abandoned as the domestic unlocking progresses.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, added: “Travel businesses across Greater Manchester and the UK have suffered significant difficulties for almost 18 months now, and it’s important that Government acknowledges these ongoing struggles. I will continue to speak up for the sector and the people who work in it to ensure they receive the attention and the support they need.

“I welcomed the chance to talk with ABTA and to hear their views. As we move into the summer period the need for additional financial support for the travel sector is becoming ever clearer. While some travel restrictions have been lifted, it is clear that the sector cannot yet open up fully, leaving many businesses and workers without any sense of certainty about the weeks and months to come.

“In the meantime, support is available from the Business Growth Hub for Greater Manchester-based businesses. This includes specialist advice around accessing finance, and dedicated advisors with tourism backgrounds who can support in identifying new opportunities and managing the impacts on businesses. There is also a live Tourism and Hospitality Talent Hub available for those in the sector who find themselves out of work, offering job search support, retraining, or skills development.”

Luke Petherbridge added: “Although international travel is opening up for those who are fully vaccinated, many restrictions remain in place. Businesses must be supported by the Chancellor with tailored support, including an extension to furlough support – at 80% levels – and other income support schemes, continued full business rates relief, and grants that properly take account of their trading conditions. It is encouraging that a growing number of politicians are engaging with the industry’s plight and speaking up for travel. The industry needs to continue to engage and to press the case for Government to re-think their approach to financial support for the sector.”

ABTA has over 100 Member businesses in the Greater Manchester area. Each has faced around 16 months of restrictions on trade, including lengthy periods when overseas travel was illegal. Continuing restrictions mean that many are still seeing little income.

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