ABTA responds to Chancellor's funding announcement
In response to the Chancellor's funding announcement today, Luke Petherbridge, Director of Public Affairs for ABTA – The Travel Association, said:
“The Chancellor’s statement today once again ignores the direct impact of Government policy decisions on businesses reliant on international travel.
“Travel agents, tour operators and travel management companies will rightly be asking why they haven’t been given the same treatment as other businesses that are suffering at this time.
“Average annual revenue across the travel industry is down by nearly 80% on pre-crisis levels even before Omicron emerged, and the re-introduction of enhanced testing – both pre and post arrival – have added significant costs and notably dampened consumer demand. As the sector approaches what should be the peak sales period for booking holidays for summer 2022, businesses are instead facing another round of heart-breaking and demoralising cancellations, with no indication that the government is listening to the challenges they are facing.
“While extra funding has been allocated to the Additional Restrictions Grants scheme, this will not go far enough to support a sector that has endured 21 months of restrictions. What’s more, travel businesses will have to compete with companies in other industry sectors to get some of this cash. It simply isn’t good enough for the government to continue to ignore an industry that, prior to COVID-19, supported over 500,000 jobs and generated more than £37bn for the UK economy.
“We urgently need Ministers to engage with us to find solutions to keep businesses afloat and save jobs. In particular, we need to see:
- The immediate lifting of unnecessary travel restrictions
- Tailored winter resilience grants for the travel sector, similar to those announced today for hospitality
- Help for businesses facing loan repayments at a time when they have no income
- The extension of rates relief for all travel businesses in financial year 2022-23
“The Government must also urgently consider the case for furlough and other income support, especially if travel restrictions are going to be maintained for any significant period.”