19 Oct

ABTA urges industry to apply for £300m in unspent Additional Restrictions Grant funding

Travel agents and tour operators urged to be persistent with councils on unspent grants 

‘Be persistent’ – that’s the message from ABTA’s Director of Public Affairs, Luke Petherbridge, as the Association reveals there could be as much as £300 million of unspent Additional Restrictions Grant funding available to travel companies across England. 

Travel agents, travel management companies and tour operators in England are eligible to apply for these grants and many have been successful in securing this much-needed funding throughout the pandemic.

ABTA is highlighting to Members Government data on how much funding has been allocated to local authorities across England, under the discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), and how much remains unspent by councils, as of the end of August 2021. 

The Association is encouraging travel agents, travel management companies and tour operators to get in touch with their council – and to be persistent – in a bid to secure funding for their business. 
Importantly, there is no restriction on the number of grants a business may receive and Government guidance to councils – updated in June – encourages local authorities to focus their support on ‘those sectors that remain closed or are severely impacted by the extended restrictions, even if those businesses have already been in receipt of Restart Grants.’ 

The Association previously wrote to every council in England to urge them to target support to the travel industry and is stressing the important role local businesses contacting their councils will play in highlighting changed government guidance, which was amended after many councils devised their local schemes. 

Chief Executive, Mark Tanzer, has also written this week to the Business Minister, Paul Scully, and Tourism Minister, Nigel Huddleston, to ask that they remind councils of the Government’s updated guidance, as well as to urge local authorities to prioritise travel companies within the £1.5bn discretionary business rates relief scheme, funding for which is due with councils in the coming weeks.

In addition, ABTA’s submission ahead of the Budget – taking place on 27 October – calls for ongoing support for the sector and a focus on helping businesses to recover from the crisis. ABTA’s letter to Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, reiterated the case for a dedicated grants scheme for travel businesses, and called for the extension of business rates relief. The Government is also being urged not to increase related taxes on consumers and businesses, including APD and corporation taxes, as the sector looks to get back on its feet.

Luke Petherbridge, ABTA’s Director of Public Affairs said:

“While the relaxation of a number of restrictions means that things are starting to look up for international travel – the majority of our Members have been starved of cash over the last 18 months. So, although it is easier for people to travel, without financial support some companies will find it difficult to get through these next few months, which is why we are urging them to pursue the Additional Restrictions Grant funding.

“The level of funding left does vary from council to council and each local authority is ultimately free to make their own decisions, but we would encourage Members to look into whether funding if available. Members can see what is left in their local authority’s pot by checking the spreadsheet in ABTA’s Member Zone. If the funding is available, we would urge Members to get in touch directly with their local authority and to be persistent – providing evidence on how your business has been restricted over recent months and highlighting the guidance from Government that urges support for travel companies.  We know from the stories of Members that have been successful that perseverance is important.”

ABTA Members can find a copy of the data, along with ABTA analysis which shows the current shortfall in spending by individual local authority in the Member Zone.

Notes to editors

ABTA has been a trusted travel brand for over 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.