03 Jun

Need for financial support remains critical

The Government is expected to update the traffic light categories at some point today. Following the ultra-cautious approach adopted from May 17th, we wait to see what the revision will mean for the opening up of international travel.

As I explain in my column for the Telegraph today, there is a lot we still need from Government to support the industry’s recovery – including addressing the cost of testing and delays at some airports, and treating islands separately to mainlands in the application of the traffic light system. We also need the Government to finally deliver a package of support to help travel businesses through the crisis. 

The over-cautious and slow return of international travel, coupled with the tapering of business support due at the end of the month, will add an enormous amount of pressure to travel businesses. This is against a backdrop of not having been able to do any meaningful trade since the arrival of Covid at the beginning of 2020.

Throughout the pandemic, ABTA has acknowledged the primacy given to protecting public health in the UK. But the Government health policies have directly curtailed travel, and there has been nowhere near adequate financial support needed to help travel businesses through the crisis.  

On Monday I shall be giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee, on behalf of ABTA Members, about the economic impacts of coronavirus on the outbound travel sector. The Select Committee is a group of MPs from across the political spectrum, whose job is to make representations to the Government and hold it to account.

We are asking Members to share some additional insight with us to help inform specific areas we expect the Select Committee to cover. I would greatly appreciate it if you could complete the ABTA Member poll before the end of the tomorrow. These additional insights will build on the evidence case we have gained through the regional meetings, conference calls, and restarting travel virtual meetings, and which we have been using to challenge the Government’s lack of support. 

In addition, next Thursday there will be a parliamentary debate hosted by Henry Smith MP on COVID-19 and support for the aviation, travel and tourism industries. The MP leading this debate is Chair of the Future of Aviation Group, a backbench grouping of MPs that ABTA has worked closely with over the last year to raise awareness of the challenges the industry faces and to keep those matters on the Government’s agenda. I know that Members across the country have been engaging your MPs and asking that they speak up on behalf of the travel industry – both in terms of getting progress on restart, and tailored financial support to help businesses through to recovery. Thank you to everyone that has got involved. If you would like to contact your own MP, we have tools available to help on our website, which can be used to make contact with your MP and to ask that they attend the debate. 

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive