Mark Tanzer appeals to MPs to help travel sector with financial support measures
ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer has urged ministers to help the travel sector or risk “losing a generation of travel companies”.
The ABTA chief appealed for financial support measures for the industry and an easing of travel restrictions at the Treasury Select Committee on Monday (June 7).
He said that the government support has “not been adequate for the scale of the challenge faced by the sector”, which has been the hardest hit by the pandemic with 37 per cent of jobs at risk or gone already.
Outlining the financial changes needed, Tanzer pressed for the scrapping of VAT on testing costs and the removal of the “pretty useless” air passenger duty.
He also called for a dedicated system of grant support for the travel sector, similar to that offered in France and the Netherlands.
“Travel is in a class of its own in terms of the pain it has suffered. If we don’t have support, I fear of losing a generation of travel companies.”
In advance of the government’s review of the traffic light system on June 28, Tanzer pressed the government to lift the requirement for PCR tests for fully vaccinated travellers returning from green list countries.
“We think people who have been fully vaccinated returning from a green country shouldn’t need to do a PCR test, as other countries are doing. Government is being ultra, ultra cautious on this and we hope this will change in the strategic review. We’d like to see that where infection rates and vaccinate rates are similar to ours then you wouldn’t need to do test to travel.”
He added: “It’s almost a right for people, if they have been vaccinated and the country says you therefore don’t need to provide a test, to be able to demonstrate that and avoid the cost of a test. And this has been in existence before Covid, vaccination certificates have existed for a number of diseases, yellow fever and so forth, so it’s not new in principle, it’s the scale of it that’s different.”
Tanzer spoke of the financial hardships faced by many travel companies, saying “we’re still shedding workers than activity recruiting them”.
He added: “We have lost some very well established and notable companies, within ABTA we’ve lost 25 to 30 members. I have anecdotal evidence of people who have been living on thin air, they are right at the end of the tether, they are not crying wolf.
“They are down to their last redundancy, their last member of staff, the loan is due, they’re being chased by lenders, threats of bankruptcy, this is the here and now story of what it is like for travel.”
He warned MPs that travel businesses will struggle to survive if “they go another summer without any trade”.
“If we stay where we are now, I don’t think that a lot of businesses will be around in the medium term. They need this summer, they’ve missed last summer there’s been nothing happening at the beginning of the year and they can’t go another summer without any trade…I think we’re talking weeks here not months,” he said.