05 Aug

Signs that Government is feeling industry’s pressure

The news this week that the Government would not introduce an Amber watch list was welcomed with a huge sigh of relief across industry and, perhaps, indicates a possible shift in thinking at Cabinet level. 
Reports over the weekend that the Chancellor wrote directly to the Prime Minister to raise concerns about the UK falling behind other nations, due to ongoing travel restrictions, were certainly encouraging.  It shows that the Government is feeling the pressure from the industry’s continued and intensive lobbying. At the end of last week, ABTA and the Save Future Travel Coalition wrote to the Chancellor to lay out our concerns about the impact ongoing restrictions have on the industry and the UK’s wider recovery, which was covered by national media earlier this week. We’ve also seen a number of Conservative backbench MPs, including Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman, speak out to call for reopening of international travel.
The shift in the political narrative around travel can be seen in last night’s traffic light list review – with the Cabinet deciding to remove France from the Amber plus category, and Greece and Spain staying as is, although with the latter some advice has been issued urging people to take a PCR test before leaving the country.
It is encouraging to see some traction at the highest level of Government but the landscape is still extremely challenging for overseas travel.

The fact remains that the most popular holiday destinations are absent from the Green list. The opening up of international travel is painfully slow. While those who have had both vaccinations can travel to more destinations, this has only been the case for just over a fortnight – meaning it comes very late in the day for travel companies to be able to capitalise on this summer season. This is a point we have been making in our media interviews today.
ABTA will continue to push the industry’s case – both on reopening international travel and the need for tailored financial support. That latest traffic light review comes in the week that businesses face a further increase in furlough costs, and the end of September – when the furlough scheme ends altogether – is looming closer.
To help inform our lobbying activity we have launched a new survey to get a weekly snapshot of holiday booking levels among Members. You can find out more information in this week’s ABTA Today.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive