06 Jan

Update on travel agents’ closed business status under Tier 4 and grant funding

The UK Government has published amended regulations that explicitly reference retail travel agents as businesses that are required to legally close in Tier 4 areas within England.

ABTA says that this confirmation from Government is a welcome step in ensuring agents in England are eligible for grant support under the Localised Restrictions Support Grants (closed) regime.

The previous exclusion of travel agents from the regulations had resulted in agents being denied much needed funding from local authorities under the LRSG scheme. Following lobbying from ABTA, the devolved nations had already clarified that grants support for businesses in the highest levels of restrictions would be extended to retail travel agents, but the UK Government had previously failed to provide this clarity for businesses in England.

ABTA has been having ongoing discussions with officials in the Westminster Government to argue that this approach must be matched in England. As part of this effort, we recently surveyed travel agent Members, working with our partners in the Save Future Travel Coalition, to produce the evidence required to demonstrate that retail travel agents are dependent on in-person trade.

Luke Petherbridge, ABTA’s Director of Public Affairs said:

“Securing grant funding for travel businesses has been a key focus of ABTA’s work in recent months. The confirmation from the UK Government today builds on actions by the Devolved Administrations on this matter and should bring an end to the postcode lottery of grants experienced by agents. We are pleased to see the Government has listened to our calls for clarification and acted on it today. We also believe it should mean that travel agents are eligible for the Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure businesses grants, although we are still awaiting the specific Government guidance on this.

“While accessing the grant schemes will provide some help to struggling businesses, these are related to the lockdown and stay at home orders. We have not yet seen sector-specific support to take account of the unique challenges that the travel industry has faced throughout the last ten months, including frequent changes to travel corridors, and restrictions on many destinations across the globe through FCDO Travel Advice, which have seriously affected the ability of businesses to trade. ABTA will continue to push for tailored support, including the urgency of getting financial help to those who have not been able to access existing support mechanisms, such as Directors of limited companies, and the many travel businesses that do not have rateable values.”

All areas of England entered the revised Tier 4 restrictions, under the latest national lockdown, from today.


About ABTA:

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.