Association makes plea at virtual Travel Convention
ABTA, the travel association, has called on the government to provide urgent support for the travel industry in a bid to help boost consumer confidence.
The association made the call at its annual conference, The Travel Convention, which this year is being held virtually as a one-day event.
In statistics released during the event, ABTA revealed that just 15 per cent of people took a foreign holiday between February and July 2020, compared to 51 per cent over the previous 12-month period. The year before it was 64 per cent.
More than half (53 per cent) of people said they took fewer overseas holidays this past year compared to the previous year, with 87 per cent of those saying they took fewer holidays because of coronavirus.
However, while coronavirus was the reason people did not travel, the government’s restrictions and last-minute changes concerned 93 per cent of people, rather than the virus itself. 80 per cent said they were concerned about having to quarantine when they returned.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s chief executive said: “There is no doubt that people’s confidence and trust in the industry has taken a huge hit – and we must work hard to earn that trust back. Not only is that by being creative and flexible in terms of the holiday and customer experience we offer, but also by making sustainability a fundamental principle of travel.”
ABTA also said that while government support has been given breathing space to travel companies, without tailored support it would be a hard winter for many. The association also criticised the Job Support Scheme, which will replace the furlough scheme in November, but requires companies to pay a minimum of 55 per cent of salaries. Many travel companies have not earned any revenue since March.
Highlighting the sector as a powerful force for good, new research from CEBR shows that the aggregate global GVA (gross value added) of UK outbound tourism is estimated at $81.4 billion and supports 2.7 million jobs, while in the UK it generates £37 billion (1.8 per cent of GDP) in aggregate economic impact and 526,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
The CEBR also identified the sustainability challenges faced by the industry, including the need to accelerate decarbonisation and to ensure that tourism generates greater benefits for destinations and local communities.
The report sets out a roadmap for how ABTA can help guide its members, partners and the wider travel industry through nine core principles.
Tanzer added: “We have to look at the whole spectrum of sustainability issues and ask ourselves – how can we do more? Out of every crisis is opportunity – for the travel industry – our opportunity is embracing sustainability. We have a duty to come back stronger and more responsible to ensure our future survival.
“We also need to make sure the UK government understands the huge value of the sector and takes urgent action to support it – not just in the immediate future so we aren’t counting the costs of coronavirus for decades to come, but also with long-term policies that will help the industry to rebuild in a greener way.”