ABTA calls for financial support for travel agents
ABTA has called on the government to provide additional funding to travel agents following the shock decision to remove Portugal from the list of safe travel destinations.
The move effectively closes the outbound travel market from the UK for at least the next three weeks, leaving many agents nursing substantial losses.
ABTA chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “It is clear that the government’s domestic health strategy is continuing to prevent any meaningful resumption of international travel.
“You can’t build the recovery of a multi-billion-pound sector while mass market holiday destinations remain off the green list.
“The removal of Portugal comes on the back on what was already a very short and cautious green list.”
He added: “Travel agents and tour operators haven’t been able to generate income since the start of the pandemic and have been depending on the return of international travel to help bring in some much-needed relief.
“The government now needs to come forward with tailored financial support for the sector, which recognises that the travel industry’s recovery will be slower than that in other sectors of the economy, and takes account of the unique challenges businesses in the sector are facing.
“Travel companies are desperately worried that at a time when the market hasn’t opened up, they will shortly face increased furlough and business rates costs, with support being gradually withdrawn from the end of this month.
“It’s vital that the government doesn’t leave these businesses behind as it focuses on the domestic unlocking.”
With the next update to the green, amber and red travel lists expected toward the end of the month, ABTA argued for a large-scale reopening of borders.
Tanzer continued: “We need to see the government use the next review of the traffic-light system, on June 28th, to deliver meaningful progress towards restart.
“Ministers must use that review to finally take the steps needed to capitalise on the great progress of the vaccine rollout in the UK.
“For example, many countries have chosen to exempt fully vaccinated individuals from certain travel requirements.
“The government should also treat islands separately in the traffic light system and take steps to further reduce the cost of testing.”