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ABTA issues latest plea for financial support

ABTA issues latest plea for financial support

Analysis from ABTA estimates that 195,000 people working in the UK travel industry have either lost their job or are at risk of losing their job due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The association is reiterating its calls for the UK government to provide tailored financial support to struggling businesses, and to safely restart travel so that businesses can generate income this summer.

The sector employs more than 526,000 people across the UK in ordinary times, meaning that the livelihoods of more than a third (37 per cent) of people in the industry face being wiped out.

ABTA says the findings show the immense pressure the travel industry is under after almost 18 months of severe restrictions which have curtailed the ability to trade.

It is urging the government to deliver a package of tailored financial support to see the industry through to recovery, which includes extending existing furlough and self-employed income support, extending full business rates relief and creating a new sector-specific ‘recovery grants’ regime for travel agents, tour operators and travel management companies.


The association says it is particularly critical that support is extended given that employer furlough contributions are due to rise at the end of the month and business rates relief will be tapered.

With international travel still largely restricted, travel businesses will not have the money to cover these costs.

The government is expected to review the requirements for international travel on June 28th, and the industry is also awaiting the next review of the traffic light list.

ABTA says the traffic light system, launched last month to deliver a safe, meaningful, risk-based restart to international travel, has been a false start, which has further dented consumer confidence at a critical time.

The system is not operating as intended, with overseas travel barely open, and as a result, the industry is on the precipice of losing a second peak summer season – crucial months which represents two-thirds of travel companies’ income.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “Travel businesses feel completely abandoned by the government, which has consistently failed to provide adequate support for an industry which has borne the brunt of the economic fallout from the pandemic. 

“People have worked tirelessly through the pandemic trying to stay afloat, taking on extra jobs, having to make long-standing, valued staff redundant, worrying about mounting debts.

“While we can clearly see the financial toll with jobs and businesses lost, the emotional toll of this ongoing battle, which still has no discernible end in sight, cannot be underestimated.”

The travel industry has taken the biggest economic hit of all sectors impacted by the pandemic, with Office of National Statistics figures showing revenues for travel agents and tour operators have been consistently down between 86-90 per cent each month since February 2020.

Despite this evidence, travel businesses are yet to receive any sector specific support from the UK government and have had limited access to more general grant support measures.

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