ABTA welcomes Government’s furlough announcement but calls for clear strategy to support the industry
ABTA – The Travel Association, welcomes the Chancellor’s move today to extend and adapt the furlough scheme, but highlights other urgent measures which will be needed to protect the industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports.
Last week, ABTA’s Chief Executive gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee highlighting the need for the furloughing rules to be reviewed in order to support travel agents and tour operators. This included enabling travel businesses to have a degree of flexibility and allowing either a part-time return to work or some tasks to be undertaken without the loss of all salary support.
While the extension of the furlough scheme to the end of October is a welcome step in the right direction, much more help is needed to ensure travel businesses get through this crisis, and ABTA is continuing to call for the Government to take action through its ‘Save Future Travel’ campaign.
In addition to the extension of the furlough scheme, the Government urgently needs to develop a wider strategy that includes:
- Providing guidance and clarity on refunds for package holidays, including confirming clearly and publicly what the CAA has stated privately, that Refund Credit Notes covering ATOL package holidays with flights are financially protected.
- Working with the ABI and insurers, to ensure adequate travel insurance cover is available to customers for when FCO travel restrictions start to be lifted.
- Ensuring any quarantine measures that are proposed are part of a wider strategy, including consideration of FCO travel advice. Any measures should be based on health and scientific advice and be proportionate, targeted and limited only to what is necessary to protect public health.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s Chief Executive, says, “We have been actively lobbying the Government to extend the furlough scheme to help prevent mass job losses impacting the industry at the end of June, so today’s announcement will be welcome news to the many travel agents and operators who are having to make incredibly difficult decisions about people’s jobs during this crisis.
“However, travel business and their customers still need urgent intervention and guidance in a number of other important areas. Above all else, we need the Government to develop and set out a wider strategy for supporting the travel industry and its customers through this crisis that covers areas including refunds and potential travel restrictions.”
Over one month since from the launch of ABTA’s ‘Save Future Travel’ campaign, more than 25,000 colleagues and supporters from across the country have emailed their local MP calling for Government intervention to help the travel industry.
The campaign has called on the Government to take urgent action to avoid mass insolvencies among UK tour operators and travel agents, prevent the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and ensure customers can receive refunds or book alternative travel arrangements as quickly as possible.
Since launch, the campaign’s asks have generated support from across the party political spectrum. Several high-profile MPs across each of the main Parties at Westminster have written to the Chancellor and Ministers responsible requesting that they follow the lead of European countries by acting to save UK travel businesses. Several MP responses have been posted on social media, including that of Liberal Democrat interim Leader, and former Cabinet Minister, Sir Edward Davey, who urged the government to adopt ABTA’s “sensible proposals”.
Thanks to the immense support shown by its supporters, the ‘Save Future Travel’ campaign has ensured that every MP has heard ABTA’s call and the specific issues of the sector have been brought to their attention. This has allowed ABTA to follow up with MPs directly and many continue to call on the Government to act.
With further cancellations happening every day and the summer season approaching, ABTA continues to engage in the hope that the Government will act to support travel businesses and protect customer rights.
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.