24 Aug

ABTA estimates over 90,000 jobs* already affected in travel and wider industry by measures to control the pandemic, and sets out new plan to Save Future Travel

  • 18% of jobs in outbound travel** have already been lost or placed at risk, according to ABTA Member survey***
  • Situation set to worsen with 78% of businesses yet to enter redundancy conversations expecting to do so in coming months based on current trading conditions
  • To provide evidence on the situation facing the industry and call for assistance to Save Future Travel, ABTA has today written to the Chancellor setting a plan to build consumer confidence and save jobs in the industry

Following a survey of its Members, ABTA – The Travel Association is able to reveal that 39,000 jobs have already been lost or placed at risk across the outbound travel sector since the crisis started, and when supply chains are also considered this number amounts to over 90,000 people affected.

The situation when it comes to jobs in the travel industry has reached a critical point, with measures to control the pandemic affecting the market, which is why, today, ABTA has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask for tailored support in the form of a package of measures to support businesses and employees.

ABTA finds the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been a significant help for businesses in the travel industry, with nine in ten businesses taking part in the scheme to support staff. However, 65% of businesses have either had to make redundancies or have started a consultation process. Despite this, there is optimism that the travel industry can recover, if offered the right support by Government, with four in ten businesses confident travel can return to 2019 levels by 2022.

To do this, according to ABTA’s plan, the Government should adopt a regionalised approach to quarantine rules. In the absence of a regional approach to Foreign Office travel advice and quarantine rules the Association highlights it is difficult to see how the UK can reopen travel to critical trade partners, including the US, in the foreseeable future.

At the same time, if the travel industry is to retain the maximum number of jobs, it is vital that consumers are incentivised to book holidays. With the peak booking season starting from December, ABTA is therefore urging the Government to use the Autumn Budget to announce an Air Passenger Duty (APD) holiday covering Summer 2021.

If the Government does not act with tailored support for travel, as it has for other sectors, 83% of firms estimate that it will have a critical or serious impact on their business.

To Save Future Travel, ABTA’s plan is to:

  1. Regionalise quarantine: moving to a regionalised quarantine and Foreign Office travel advice policy will provide additional certainty for businesses and consumers.
  2. Introduce testing: a testing regime will enable travel to resume to major global trading partners and mitigate the risk of infection from high risk countries.
  3. Grant an APD holiday: to boost demand for travel, including Summer holidays in 2021.
  4. Provide recovery grants and other business support measures: travel agents, the vast majority of whom are SMEs, receive the majority of their income through commission that is paid on the departure, so these businesses will need support to get them through to the next major travel period next Easter. The Government can support these businesses by issuing another round of grants, based on those offered to Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure businesses earlier in the crisis, and extending other business support measures into 2021/22.
  5. Give ongoing salary support: with the furlough scheme drawing to a close at the end of October, the government should consider extending support for businesses that have not seen a significant recovery in revenues, as has happened elsewhere such as Australia. Targeting salary support where it is needed until March 2021 would reduce the cost to HM Treasury and could preserve tens of thousands of jobs in travel.

While public health is rightly the Government’s priority right now, few sectors in the UK economy have been hit as hard as travel by the measures used to control the pandemic. With only 65% of businesses operating again, many parts of the travel industry remain shuttered, such as cruise and school travel operators. Moreover, if a second wave inspired a further shutdown, 96% of travel businesses report it would have a critical or serious impact on their ability to survive.  

Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s Chief Executive, says: “With the Government’s stop start measures, the restart of travel has not gone as hoped for the industry, and sadly businesses continue to be adversely affected and jobs are being lost at an alarming rate. Coming towards the end of the traditional period for peak booking, we have hit a critical point as existing Government measures to support businesses begin to taper off, the consequence of which, according to this survey of ABTA Members will be ruinous for more people’s livelihoods.

“Travel desperately needs the Government in its next review to provide tailored support or tens of thousands more jobs will be lost. We have already seen well-known and respected businesses that would normally be successful falling into administration, and more are sadly set to follow unless the Government can Save Future Travel.”

* CEBR research on industry employment shows that for every 1 job in outbound travel there are 1.39 jobs in the wider related industries (indirect and induced) – that equates to 39,000* 1.39 = 54,210 jobs in the wider sector. Total = 93,210
** Direct jobs in the outbound travel industry – tour operators, travel agents and airline staff
*** ABTA Member Survey 31/07/2020-17/08/2020 responses taken from in-depth survey of 76 Members spanning representative industry types with a combined turnover of £4.8bn


About ABTA

ABTA has been a trusted travel brand for 70 years. Our purpose is to help our Members to grow their businesses successfully and sustainably, and to help their customers travel with confidence. 

The ABTA brand stands for support, protection and expertise. This means consumers have confidence in ABTA and a strong trust in ABTA Members. These qualities are core to us as they ensure that holidaymakers remain confident in the holiday products that they buy from our Members.

We help our Members and their customers navigate through today's changing travel landscape by raising standards in the industry; offering schemes of financial protection; providing an independent complaints resolution service should something go wrong; giving guidance on issues from sustainability to health and safety and by presenting a united voice to government to ensure the industry and the public get a fair deal.

ABTA has more than 4,300 travel brands in Membership, providing a wide range of leisure and business travel services, with a combined annual UK turnover of £39 billion. For more details about what we do, what being an ABTA Member means and how we help the British public travel with confidence visit www.abta.com.