ABTA is calling on the Government to consider support measures for businesses operating in the UK’s travel and tourism sector in the context of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Following a meeting with the Tourism Minister last week, ABTA conducted a survey among its Members to ask them about business impacts if the coronavirus outbreak continues to worsen.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, ahead of the budget, ABTA has called for the Government to consider steps to protect healthy businesses that may suffer financial distress.
These measures could include bridging loans, a relief to business rates, VAT and PAYE deadline extensions and reliefs and a six month ‘holiday’ from Air Passenger Duty.
As the situation has developed, ABTA Members have received an increasing number of questions from concerned customers about their travel plans. With updates to travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office affecting mainland China, Italy and parts of South Korea, Members have also been busy liaising with customers with imminent package holidays to offer alternative arrangements.
In a survey of Members last week, 88 per cent said that they are receiving enquiries from consumers that are due to travel to areas that are not even affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, ABTA is conducting a very high level of media and communications activity to provide perspective, give accurate information and guidance to the travelling public and highlight the benefits of booking package holidays, which come with a range of consumer protections.
These vital messages have been communicated to national and regional media, amounting to over 400 pieces of coverage since the end of January alone, with a combined reach of over 200 million viewers, listeners and readers.
ABTA has also been running a proactive paid for Facebook campaign to target people looking to travel with its latest advice. So far this has resulted in over 850,000 impressions and will continue to engage with travellers over the coming weeks.
On Tuesday 10 March ABTA is hosting a conference call with Members to provide an update on the situation and address questions. A recording of the call will be made available on March 11 for all Members at abta.com/coronavirusguidance.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said, “As the outbreak of coronavirus develops, travel businesses are under increasing pressure. They cannot wait to see what may happen in the months to come, we are asking the Government to act now in taking steps to protect them.
“Among the travelling public, our priority remains to be proactive in providing up to date fact-based information and to give perspective so they can make informed decisions. We are also explaining the protections that are in place if they’re no longer able to travel.”