28 Jan

Travel businesses must be supported to trade out of the crisis

Another week brings another set of measures for travel, including the need to quarantine in hotels when returning from ‘red list countries.’ Ahead of the Government’s announcement of these measures, I wrote to the Prime Minister to reiterate our calls for tailored financial support and a recovery roadmap for the whole sector. I also stressed this in my interview with Radio 4 on Tuesday evening and in my column for The Times yesterday, as did the ABTA’s communications team in their many broadcast interviews this week. 
Governments and MPs have to understand the situation facing our sector, and that the industry has generated little income since the start of the pandemic. This hasn’t been recognised by UK Government in terms of any tailored financial support, although I am pleased to see that the Scottish Government did respond to ABTA and SPAA’s calls and have launched a new grant scheme this week specifically for travel agents.
I encourage you to contact your MP about this matter once again, particularly ahead of the Budget on 3 March, outlining the direct impact the pandemic has had on your business. We have template letters available for Members which highlight the need for the Government to:

  • Expand existing grants schemes, in recognition of the unique regulatory restrictions placed on the travel sector. With the vaccine rollout progressing well, targeted grants support will help travel businesses as they move through the crisis and into recovery. 
  • Extend other financial support mechanisms, such as furlough, VAT deferrals, business rates relief, loan re-payments, to avoid the impending financial cliff-edge facing many companies that have had little or no revenue for approaching a year. 
  • Enable travel businesses to trade out of the crisis, by setting out a plan to build consumer confidence while putting in place mitigation measures to ensure travel can operate in a risk-controlled manner.

You can download a copy of the template letter here.
The recent coronavirus developments will set back the industry’s recovery further, leading to more cancelled holidays and lower bookings. You will, I hope, have seen that Members will now have the option to issue Refund Credit Notes for ABTA protected holidays until the end of March with an expiry date of up to 30 September 2021. Full details, along with the criteria, can be found in the ABTA Member Zone. I am also pleased to see that the CAA has extended the deadline for ATOL protected Refund Credit Notes this week.

We holding a free webinar on 4 February to help Members understand the next steps you need to take to ensure any Refund Credit Notes issued between 31 January and 31 March are financially protected. You can book a place here.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive