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