Quarantine and foreign travel advice policy shattering confidence in travel
Government must bring in specific measures of support for the travel industry
ABTA is urging the Government to move to regionalised quarantine and introduce testing to restore confidence in travel, as new figures* reveal 4 in 5 people (80%) are concerned about having to quarantine when they return from holiday to the UK.
The findings also show that, when it comes to going on holiday currently, 93% of people are concerned about potential last-minute changes to foreign office travel advice.
ABTA says the research demonstrates that the current approach to foreign travel advice and quarantine measures has shattered people’s confidence in travelling abroad. It leaves viable travel businesses – including the thousands of travel agents up and down the country – unable to generate income.
As part of the Save Future Travel Coalition, ABTA has written to the Chancellor and the Secretary of
State for Transport on the urgent need for specific measures to support the travel sector.
While the Government has heard the industry’s call for ongoing salary support, many travel businesses will undoubtedly be left behind by the structure of the Job Support Scheme. With people not travelling, travel companies are not generating cash and they cannot afford to pay a minimum of 55% of salaries to retain jobs at this time. The situation is particularly stark for travel agents, who earn commission paid on the departure of their customers, with many of these businesses looking at experiencing a full year without significant revenues ahead of the travel period at Easter 2021.
ABTA’s recent Member survey showed that over 90,000 jobs across the wider travel sector are already lost or at risk, and 65% of travel agents and tour operators have made redundancies as the furlough scheme wound down. In August, only 28% of previously furloughed staff had returned to work, and nearly 80% of businesses that had not yet let staff go anticipated having to do so in the coming months.** The new job scheme does little to avoid this outcome.
For businesses to be able to survive the travel market needs to open-up again. Other countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, already operate fully regionalised approaches to their own quarantine regimes, including for mainland areas, and many countries have introduced testing to reopen travel to a greater number of destinations.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA – The Travel Association said:
“The travel industry was the first to be affected by the coronavirus crisis and will be the last to recover. What travel businesses need more than anything is for people to feel confident enough to travel again, and policy decisions taken by Government to manage the pandemic have served as a straitjacket to travel.
“The chopping and changing of quarantine measures and travel advice means what went back on sale one week is taken off again the next. This, coupled with an increasing number of local lockdowns in the UK, is creating extremely difficult market conditions for travel businesses, with travel agents particularly hurting.
“While we recognise that the Government is attempting to offer some ongoing salary support through the new Job Support Scheme, in reality, it offers little help for travel businesses as they aren’t able to generate the revenue needed to cover the cost to employers.
“Without action from the Government, we are going to see businesses that would be perfectly viable if Government were to ease restrictions on travel closing their doors, and thousands of jobs will be lost. Addressing these issues, while maintaining health precautions, must now be a priority for Ministers.”
In ordinary times, the UK's travel industry supports over 100 million trips annually (inbound and outbound), with an economic contribution of more than £60bn, and employing close to 1m people.
Notes to editors
* The findings are from research with nationally representative sample of 2,000 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to July 2020. Fieldwork was conducted in the last two weeks of August 2020 and was conducted by The Nursery Research and Planning (www.the-nursery.net/).
** CEBR research on industry employment shows that for every 1 job in outbound travel there are 1.39 jobs in the wider related industries (indirect and induced) – that equates to 39,000* 1.39 = 54,210 jobs in the wider sector. Total = 93,210. ABTA Member Survey 31/07/2020-17/08/2020 responses taken from in-depth survey of 76 Members spanning representative industry types with a combined turnover of £4.8bn
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.