Tourism Alliance calls on Government to make sure business rates help gets to travel businesses
The Tourism Alliance – the umbrella body made up of trade bodies across the tourism sector, including ABTA – is calling on the Government to make sure that the £1.5bn Business Rates Relief Fund1 is allocated to travel and events dependent businesses without delay.
This funding was originally announced by the Chancellor on 25th March 2021, but the legislation that will enable its release should finally complete its parliamentary stages in the House of Lords today.
Previous statements made by Chancellor and the Housing Secretary have said that the funds will be targeted towards those businesses most impacted by COVID-19 – the Alliance says tourism businesses should be front of the queue considering the prolonged and ongoing impact of the pandemic on international travel.
In a letter to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the Alliance says that over the last two years the tourism sector has suffered a decline in revenue of over 70% and modelling undertaken by DCMS indicates that tourism revenue will take until at least the end of 2023 to recover due to ongoing restrictions associated with international travel.
The decline in revenue over the past two years has particularly impacted online travel agencies, tour and coach operators, destination management companies, English language schools, and conference and event organisers.
These businesses are also being significantly impacted by restrictions being imposed to prevent the spread of the new Omicron variant, which will further threaten their viability and delay their recovery.
The letter makes clear these businesses have been excluded from the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief scheme, and says that receiving the funds could be important for their future viability.
The Alliance is urging the Government to provide clear guidance to local authorities which recommends they prioritise businesses in these sectors, and is asking for support to cover business rates across the entire period since March 2020, and through to the end of the next financial year in March 2023. The Alliance points out that continuing support into the next financial year, at very least at 50% levels, is required to match the commitments already given to retail companies. If more funding is required to do this, the Alliance urges the Chancellor to make that available as quickly as possible.
Kurt Jansen, Director of the Tourism Alliance said:
“This funding could make a huge difference to tourism businesses, many of whom have been overlooked for other grants and support, so it is vital that these businesses get this help. Ministers have previously said this money should be prioritised for the sectors who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, as an industry that has suffered far more than most, travel should be a priority for this spending.”
Luke Petherbridge, Director of Public Affairs at ABTA – The Travel Association said:
“We’re nearing two years of travel being significantly curbed by the pandemic. We were the first sector to be affected by the virus, and as the latest developments have shown, we will be the last to recover. Throughout these difficult years financial support for the sector has been woeful – with no specific funding and companies often excluded from general support. The Government has an opportunity here to make sure that money – which has already been found to support businesses – gets to travel businesses.”
Notes to editors
ABTA has been a trusted travel brand for over 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.