22 Apr

Regional Meetings and engaging with the devolved governments

Part of the vitality of ABTA is when we come together to discuss issues, share problems and look to move forward. We’ve been pleased to bring ABTA Members together virtually over the last couple of weeks, through the Spring Regional Business Meetings, to discuss some of the most pressing matters facing the travel industry. Two of the five meetings have taken place so far, and there is still time to sign up to a future meeting and hear from ABTA’s experts. Unsurprisingly, the agenda for the meetings focuses heavily on the pandemic and the restart of international travel. 
Luke Petherbridge, ABTA’s Director of Public Affairs, provides an overview of the Global Travel Taskforce and what that means for international travel, along with an update on our political engagement. You will also hear from ABTA’s Head of Membership, Danny Waine, who shares feedback from the ABTA Member survey, and Rachel Jordan, our Director of Financial Protection, on March bond renewals and Refund Credit Notes. There are also updates on travel insurance, ABTA LifeLine and ABTA’s recent communications activity.
I want to extend my thanks to the ABTA Members who are taking part in the panel discussion about ‘What one thing could ABTA do to help your business before travel restarts?’ The conversations have been really insightful and, so far, many Members have highlighted the role ABTA has to play in building consumer confidence to travel – something our communications team very much has in hand. 
There are three more regional meetings to go; dates, times and how to register can be found here. At the Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (joint with North West England) meetings Members will be able to hear more about the work we have been doing with the devolved nations around the restart of international travel and the need to provide financial support throughout the recovery.
Building on the work we did with the governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland, along with our partners SPAA and ANITA, to secure grant funding for travel agents (and operators in Scotland), we also shared a version of our submission to the Global Travel Taskforce with the devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. These papers outlined ABTA’s priorities for restart and also the importance of a four-nation approach. This week ABTA has met with officials from the Welsh Government, and shared further intelligence and information with the Scottish Government Working Group looking at restart in Holyrood. We plan to meet Ministers after the elections in Scotland and Wales, on 6 May, and have requested engagement with the Northern Ireland Executive too. We will ensure Members are kept updated.
It is frustrating that there has not been any firm indication about how and when international travel will open up from the Devolved Bodies, although it is notable that Scotland and Wales have indicated an intention to align with the UK Government, where possible and appropriate, albeit whilst adopting a more cautious tone to international travel generally. ABTA continues to press the governments on this issue, highlighting what a delay will mean for jobs and businesses as well as the potential risk to some air travel routes.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive