ABTA calls for industry-wide action to ‘Save Future Travel’
- Urgent Government intervention has been called for, but industry waits for a response
- Government must deliver on its promise to ‘do whatever it takes’ to protect jobs, and customer money
- Grassroots political action called to visit www.savefuturetravel.co.uk and petition local MPs
ABTA – The Travel Association is appealing to its Membership, the wider travel and tourism industry, all travel agents and tour operators, their families, and anyone who supports the industry and wants to ‘Save Future Travel’.
ABTA first called for urgent Government intervention to support the travel industry and take action around refunds and other measures several weeks ago. Since then, the Association has held discussions with and written to relevant Government departments and the Prime Minister multiple times. Despite this, and the Government promise to ‘do whatever it takes’ to protect businesses and jobs, the travel industry is still waiting for action.
ABTA is now calling for widespread industry support to ‘Save Future Travel’ by asking individuals to visit www.savefuturetravel.co.uk and email their local MP to highlight industry asks. The system is automated so it’s very easy and quick to use. We also want supporters to use social media to contact their local MPs and Government Ministers using #savefuturetravel and calling for action.
To protect normally perfectly viable and healthy businesses, ABTA has asked the UK Government to act, as governments have already done in many other countries, like France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands and Denmark, where they have proposed temporary changes to existing regulations that are not fit for purpose in this current climate.
The UK travel industry employs more than 500,000 people directly and indirectly across the country and this devastating crisis has brought it to its knees. Holiday bookings have dried up, while businesses are refunding the mass cancellations of future trips, while still awaiting refunds from airlines and hotels.
Without support from the Government the reality is that businesses will go under, hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk, and the taxpayer would be liable for billions of pounds of refunds that the ATOL scheme won’t be able to cover.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, says, “ABTA has been doing all it can on behalf of the industry to make it clear to Government the devastating impact this crisis is having and to provide workable solutions to help them to do what it takes to support us. We now need additional help from colleagues, friends and supporters to make our industry voice as loud as possible. The time has come for the industry and anyone who loves to travel to get behind our campaign to ‘Save Future Travel’.
The Chancellor promised UK businesses that he would do “whatever it takes” to help the country get through this pandemic, and we need the Government to act.
“This crisis has created extraordinary difficulties for everyone, in ways that none of us could ever have predicted. Many sectors have been hit hard but few have been hit as hard as travel. The changes that we have asked for are reasonable, as has been shown by other governments taking similar action.”
ABTA is asking its Membership, the wider travel and tourism industry, all travel agents and tour operators, their families, and anyone who supports the industry to:
1. Visit www.savefuturetravel.co.uk and send an electronic letter to MPs in support of the travel industry
2. Show support on social media with the following example posts:
I support @ABTAlovetravel’s call to @UKgovernment to do whatever it takes to protect travel industry jobs and customer money. I have emailed my local MP to help #SaveFutureTravel. Find out more at: www.savefuturetravel.co.uk #OneTravelIndustry
I support @ABTAtravel’s call to @GOVUK to do whatever it takes to protect travel industry jobs and customer money. I have emailed my local MP to help #SaveFutureTravel. Find out more at: www.savefuturetravel.co.uk #OneTravelIndustry
Notes to editors:
ABTA is asking Tour Operators, Travel Agents, and anyone who supports the industry to ask their MP to consider these measures to enable immediate travel industry resilience and ensure long-term recovery:
1. Temporary changes to the Package Travel Regulations
We are asking the Government to implement temporary amendments to the Package Travel Regulations to protect both businesses and consumers. Strengthening the regulatory basis and extending the window for refund credit notes, as a short-term alternative to cash refunds, will provide businesses with vital breathing space, whilst ensuring all consumer protections are carried forward. While this will involve a delay for consumers in receiving their money, or booking a replacement holiday arrangement, the alternative is mass travel company failures. That outcome would mean customers waiting longer to receive their money, and would also result in a far worse financial outcome for the Government, which acts as the financial guarantor of the UK’s holiday-based financial protection scheme. It’s important to reiterate, this is about supporting businesses through an entirely unforeseeable, and short-term, cashflow crunch - customers will not lose their right to a refund, and their money is not at risk.
2. Financial liquidity and employment support
Action needs to be taken to amend the structure of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – which only applies to furloughed workers – and ensure that the Government backed loans for both SMEs and larger companies are accessible in practice and uniform in approach. Ministers must make sure that no travel business of any size is left to fall through the cracks.
3. Appropriate responses by credit card and other financial payments companies
We also urge the Government to work closely with regulators and trade bodies across the financial sector to ensure a proportionate response is being adopted by other actors in the financial protection environment. In particular, we ask that officials examine the operations of Merchant Acquirers, and banks and credit card companies.