07 Jan

Continuing the argument for tailored financial support

If the first week is to go by, 2021 seems to be following in the footsteps of 2020 as being a very eventful and challenging year. The announcements earlier this week from the Prime Minister and First Minister of Scotland, introducing national lockdowns, reflect the very real threat coronavirus continues to pose to public health, and the UK economy.
As I said in my email to Members on Monday, highlighting the difficulties faced by industry and the support businesses need to survive the pandemic will continue to be ABTA’s priority.
On Monday night we responded immediately to the PM’s announcement – both in the national media and to our contacts in Government - highlighting the urgent and ongoing need for tailored financial support for the sector, as well as arguing that the travel businesses should be eligible for new and existing grant schemes. 
Yesterday we received confirmation from Government that retail travel agents will be classed as closed businesses under the Tier 4 regulations. This is a significant step forward for travel agents in England who have previously been excluded from some grant funding. It is an issue we have been lobbying hard on, so we’re pleased to see the Government has listened to our case.
But grants cannot be the end of the story when it comes to financial support. These schemes only acknowledge that businesses are required to close because of lockdown measures. There is no recognition of the fact that travel businesses have barely been able to operate for the last 10 months, due to the myriad of travel restrictions both at home and abroad. 
The government in Scotland has responded to our lobbying, committing to financial support for the sector – but the UK Government, and other Devolved Bodies, are yet to come forward with any tailored help for the sector. Our lobbying and engagement efforts will focus on this. We will also continue to make the case that the Government needs to have a plan in place to reopen travel, when it is appropriate to do so, which includes reviewing the current approach to FCDO advice and ensuring there is an efficient and effective testing regime in place. 
On a separate, and happier note, I would like to congratulate Irene Hays from Hays Travel and Marie Shevas from Moorlands Travel on being recognised in the New Year’s Honours.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive