Grants must be available for travel sector
This week we have been urgently seeking clarification from the Government on its list of ‘closed businesses.’ When the Government first published its guidance on the non-essential shops which had to close under the latest lockdown in England, travel agents were specifically mentioned on the list – and were also referenced by the Chancellor as eligible for grants.
However, it appears that they have since been removed. We raised this as an urgent matter with Government officials on Monday and have since followed-up with the relevant Government Ministers to try to understand what has happened and why. If agents aren’t classified as a closed business then local authorities would not automatically consider them for a Local Restriction Support Grants, although they may be eligible for an Additional Restrictions Grant which is discretionary.
We are also arguing that travel companies – whether a tour operator or agent – should be eligible for grants support given they are not able operate at the moment. We have recently written to all Governments in the UK on this matter, including the Devolved Administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as every Local Authority in England. Similarly, we have reiterated the point that current advice from the Foreign Office and Department for Education has effectively closed cruise and school travel operations, but again these sectors are not in receipt of grant support.
We have written specifically to Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes, today seeking to clarify the eligibility of their grants schemes for businesses affected by Tier 4 restrictions. We will update Members on this, but our current advice to travel agents in Scotland would be to apply through your local authority if you’re affected by the Tier 4 restrictions. We are currently assessing support in Wales and Northern Ireland.
We appreciate how concerning this issue of grant funding is for Members and we are working to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible, as well as arguing the importance of grant funding for all Members, given the impact the crisis has had on trading conditions.
I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of John Hays last Friday. He was a well-respected leader in the industry and made a huge contribution to the sector. Our condolences are with his wife Irene and his family, colleagues and friends.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive