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Make your travel industry voice heard

Travel has often felt like a forgotten sector in terms of government support, says ABTA

ABTA is urging the industry to mobilise ahead of a Westminster Hall Debate in the House of Commons next Monday evening.

The debate, which begins at 6.15pm, will explore the impact of Covid-19 on the travel industry. ABTA is providing tools to help members lobby their MP on the issue.

The debate, which follows a parliamentary petition calling for the restart of international travel to enable people to see families and partners overseas, will be chaired by Conservative MP for Don Valley, Nick Fletcher. Its scope has been broadened to include consideration of the challenges facing the travel industry.

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ABTA’s director of public affairs, Luke Petherbridge, said: “ABTA has already met with and briefed the Chair of the debate, but it is vitally important the industry uses this opportunity to make our voices heard. To do that effectively we need business owners and those working in travel across the country to contact their own local MPs to ask that they attend and speak in support of the travel industry.

“Travel has often felt like a forgotten sector in terms of government support – especially when it comes to grants support that has not been targeted at addressing the consequences of severe government constraints on international travel. The recent restart grants are a case in point, which saw high street travel agents – with their stores open but with little to sell – typically awarded less than their neighbouring hairdressers, which are reopen and under incredibly high demand. Meanwhile, government only amended the guidance to urge local councils to give discretionary grants to tour operators more than a year into the crisis, and many other businesses, including homeworkers have been left entirely excluded from grants support.

“A government Minister is required to attend and to respond to the debate, and we need to ensure they are left in no doubt about the strength of feeling in this sector that we have not been supported adequately.”

To help the industry with contacting their MP, ABTA has created a template email and provided briefing materials on their website abta.com/savefuturetravel. The association will also be directly briefing MPs ahead of the debate, with a particular focus on the need for ongoing financial support to recognise the restrictions that will remain in place for international travel after the planned reopening of the domestic economy.

ABTA is also urging the government to extend furlough support, retain full business rates relief, and to bring forward recovery grants for businesses operating in the UK travel industry. The government is also being encouraged to review the existing traffic lights regime to facilitate travel, including by further lowering the cost of testing, and revising testing rules for green countries that are deemed low risk.