ABTA statement on the Government removal of travel agents from the non-essential shop list

Published on : Wednesday, November 25, 2020

“The decision to remove travel agents from the list of closed businesses shows a lack of understanding for how the travel industry works. ABTA has explained this to Ministers and officials a number of times, and we are disappointed that a decision with such serious ramifications has been taken without officials engaging directly with the sector on the practicalities. Travel agents are dependent on footfall for a significant part of their trade, and the impact on their trade is identical, or worse, than many of those businesses who have been named as eligible. For example, florists can operate click and collect services in a manner that is not an option to travel agents.

“The Regulations adopted by the Government have removed the ability of the industry’s customers to take holidays at this time, and the policy decisions taken throughout the crisis, while correctly taken with public health in mind, have severely restricted the ability of companies to sell organised travel for the past eight months. This is a situation that has not been faced by many other sectors or businesses throughout the crisis. This situation is true for all travel businesses, not only travel agents, but also tour operators, and travel management companies, yet there has been no offer of financial support for the travel industry – despite the sector being worth £65bn a year in GVA and supporting nearly 1 million jobs.

“ABTA urges the Government to think again, and to clarify that travel agents are eligible for the Lockdown Restrictions Support Grants, as per the Chancellor’s answer when questioned in the House of Commons on 5 November, and the initial information published by the Government following the announcement of lockdown. We also urge the Chancellor to make tailored financial support to all travel businesses, in recognition of the fact that the international travel industry has been experiencing conditions akin to the lockdown since the crisis began in March.

“At this point, we would note that ABTA is yet to receive an official response to our letter on this subject. We are currently advising Members to continue applying for the Lockdown Restrictions Support Grants (LRSG), and to consider the Additional Restriction Grants (ARG) scheme, which is discretionary for each local authority, if their applications under the LRSG is refused.”

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