//Travel ‘worst affected’, says ONS

Travel ‘worst affected’, says ONS

Figures between February and October show industry suffered 90% drop

Travel agents and tour operators have been hit worst by the pandemic than any other service sector, according to figures published by the ONS.

However, despite the downturn, the government has offered no tailored support.

The figures show that the impact of on output in the UK economy for October 2020, revealing that travel agents and tour operators were down 90 per cent on February 2020.

ABTA has been arguing for tailored financial support for the sector throughout the crisis, this week the Scottish Government confirmed tailored support will be made available from January.

Based on the ONS data, ABTA has reiterated its call to the government in Westminster, as well as the devolved administrations, to support the travel industry.

ABTA also wants the Foreign Office to review its approach to travel advice, as the government is currently advising against all but essential travel to the majority of destinations. ABTA is encouraging the government to allow for travel to countries where infection rates are comparable to or lower than the UK and where they have developed public health responses to the pandemic.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA – The Travel Association said: “While the recent developments around a vaccine and test to release have provided a boost to consumer confidence, with more enquiries and interest in booking holidays for next summer and into 2022, the start of 2021 will still be very challenging for the industry.

“All of the travel industry is struggling, but for some parts, like ski and long-haul operators, the coming months will be even more difficult. Nine months into this crisis, and with the ONS now clearly showing we’ve been the hardest hit service sector in the UK, travel businesses need help to get through the difficult months ahead.

“The government also needs to ease its travel advice, allowing people to travel more freely. Yesterday the Scottish government led the way by introducing specific funding for the travel industry – the UK government, as well as those in Wales and Northern Ireland, needs to follow suit.”

Sam Ballard is a director and co-founder of Waterfront Publishing, creator of ABTA Magazine, Cruise Adviser, Solus and more.