Travel bodies come together to discuss shared objectives and lobby government
Associations from across the travel industry have come together to discuss how they can continue working together to lobby government on the need for specific support to save jobs and businesses in the travel industry, following the coronavirus crisis.
ABTA; Advantage Travel Partnership, AITO, ATAS, the BTA, the SPAA, and UKinbound met via video conference to discuss shared objectives such as regionalising quarantine, introducing testing and ongoing salary and grant support schemes.
The associations agreed to increase coordination, and the combination of efforts ahead of the budget this autumn – with regular meetings to exchange insight and knowledge and undertake joint activities to try to secure the targeted support the industry desperately needs.
Recent research from ABTA, who convened the meeting, revealed that 39,000 jobs have already been lost or are at risk in the industry. Many more are in the pipeline as 78 per cent of companies are yet to start redundancy consultations but expect to in the coming months.
Luke Petherbridge, director of public affairs at ABTA, said: “The entire travel industry is going through a period of uncertainty and challenge like it has never seen before. It is our job as travel associations to make the case for our industry. We must come together to highlight the vital strategic importance of travel for the wider UK economy, as businesses that underpin the country’s aviation connectivity, and support inward investment and export earnings.
“Alongside championing the importance of the sector, we must also offer Ministers practical and workable solutions to problems facing the leisure and business travel sectors.
“That is why, with MPs returning to Parliament this week and the Budget nearing closer, now is an opportune moment to hammer home the plight of the industry, and the actions needed to secure jobs and businesses. Coordinating our efforts through the Save Future Travel Coalition enables us to speak with one voice on areas of common interest and will ensure our industry’s voice is heard more clearly in the critical weeks ahead.”
As the Save Future Travel Coalition – the associations will be pursuing the following common asks:
- Regionalise quarantine: moving to a regionalised quarantine and Foreign Office travel advice policy, and seeking better co-ordination between the four nations of the UK.
- Introduce testing: to enable the resumption of travel to major destinations and global trading partners, such as the Canaries or the US, which would mitigate the risk of infection from higher risk countries.
- Grant an APD holiday: to incentivise consumers to book and boost travel companies ahead of summer 2021.
- Provide recovery grants and other business support measures: target support at SME businesses, including travel agents, tour operators and DMOs, to help these businesses through to the end of quarter one 2021, which is the next major travel period at Easter 2021. The Government can support these businesses through the issuing of tailored grant support, building on those offered to retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses earlier in the crisis, as well as extending other business support measures into 2021/22, including rates reliefs and VAT deferrals.
- Give ongoing salary support: with the furlough scheme drawing to a close at the end of October, the Government should consider extending support for businesses that have not seen a significant recovery in revenues, as has happened elsewhere such as Australia. Targeting salary support where it is needed until March 2021 would reduce overall costs to HM Treasury and could preserve tens of thousands of jobs in travel.
Julia Lo Bue Said, CEO of The Advantage Travel Partnership said: “Continued collaboration at this critical time requires all organisations to pull together with a common message if we are to salvage businesses and jobs.”
Martyn Sumners, executive director at AITO said: “AITO fully supports these actions to retain a vibrant and diverse sector of the UK economy.”
Clive Wratten, chief executive at the BTA said: “At a time when our sector faces a unique crisis, it is imperative organisations from across our industry come together to combine all of our interests and demonstrate to the Government the value travel delivers for the UK.”
Joanne Dooey, president of the SPAA said: “This new collaboration gives us the opportunity to hammer home to governments that the entire travel sector is at massive risk and that they need to recognise the unquantifiable damage that will be done to the wider UK/Scottish economy. Governments need to understand that this extends far beyond individuals missing out on a holiday, but also encompasses a global corporate travel sector.”
Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound said: “This collaboration will amplify our voice within Government and the fact that our industry, particularly inbound tourism businesses, is facing catastrophe without urgent help.”
ABTA originally launched the Save Future Travel campaign in April which saw more than 25,000 emails sent to MPs asking them to support the industry.
The coalition partners will be looking to build on that platform, as well as engaging with other industry campaigns, and The Future Aviation Group, a group of MPs from across the political spectrum that is supported by ABTA, the AOA, Airlines UK, and other bodies in the aviation sector, to raise awareness in parliament of the need for tailored support.
The group is looking to involve other interested travel trade bodies and associations, and any organisations that are interested in getting involved are invited to contact ABTA.