//Calls for ‘recovery grants’ for industry

Calls for ‘recovery grants’ for industry

Coalition is made up of 15 leading travel associations and trade groups.

The Save Future Travel Coalition has written to the chancellor, Foreign Office, and the chair of the House of Commons Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, on the restart of international travel and the need to support the travel industry throughout the recovery.

Writing to the chancellor, the Coalition said the gradual reopening of travel means the need for financial support for the sector remains and calls on government to:

  • Retain existing furlough and self-employed income support for businesses operating in international travel, without tapering, for a minimum of six-months from 17 May, with future reviews.
  • Extend full business rates relief for travel companies (agents and operators) operating from rateable premises for a minimum of six-months from 17 May, with future reviews.
  • Create a new sector-specific ‘recovery grants’ regime for travel agents, tour operators and travel management companies that are reliant on international travel for their revenues.

It also points out that HMRC should look to reduce the cost of testing for members of the public by exempting PCR tests from VAT.

In its letter to the Foreign Office, the group stressed the need for:

  • urgent clarity on the approach to Foreign Office travel advice around the restart of international travel and how it will work with the new country traffic light system;
  • confirmation that advice against all but essential travel will be used only where the risk to UK nationals related to COVID-19 is unacceptably high;
  • clarity that FCDO advice is only used to manage the risk to the individual in the country not as part of prevention and control measures of the virus in the UK;
  • clear and transparent criteria behind the travel advice decisions in relation to COVID-19 to be shared with the sector.

Following on from last week’s Transport Select Committee, where ABTA’s chief executive Mark Tanzer gave evidence, the group has written to the chair, Hugh Merriman, to emphasise their collective asks including more detail around how countries will be categorised in the traffic light system, the cost of testing and use of PCR tests for green countries, and the need for a four nations approach to reopening international travel.

This week’s joint activity builds on the work the organisations have been doing individually to raise questions and concerns regarding the plan for the restart. The Coalition also continues to work together with other trade bodies and groups within the industry, including the Future of Aviation Group.

Luke Petherbridge, director of public affairs at ABTA, said: “It is really important we continue to put forward a consistent argument and approach to the UK government, and devolved nations, on the issues facing the sector and share our expert insight around the restart of international travel.

“There is still a number of unknowns around the government’s plans for the restart and a lot of detail missing, by engaging with Ministers, departments, and a broader group of MPs, we can make sure that the voice of the organised travel sector is heard, and we are providing expert insight and constructive solutions about the restart of international travel.”

The Save Future Travel Coalition is made up of 15 leading travel bodies and campaign organisations which together represent the vast majority of outbound and inbound organised travel to the UK, they are:

  • ABTA – The Travel Association
  • AITO – the specialist travel association
  • Advantage Travel Partnership
  • The African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA)
  • Association of Northern Ireland Travel Agents (ANITA)
  • Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (ATAS)
  • The Business Travel Association (BTA)
  • Cruise Lines International Association UK & Ireland (CLIA)
  • Keep Travel Alive
  • The Latin American Travel Association (LATA)
  • The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)
  • Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA)
  • Seasonal Businesses in Travel (SBIT)
  • The Travel Network Group (TTNG)
  • UKinbound