The UK travel industry has urged the government to provide tailored financial support to the struggling sector by chalking out a roadmap to recovery. In a letter to the government, the companies and operators have come together to request the government to help them before PM Boris Johnson announces the proposed roadmap out of national lockdown.
Companies including Airlines UK, EasyJet (LON: EZJ) holidays, Jet2.com, Jet2holidays, TUI AG (LON: TUI) have joined hands with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), the travel lobby group in partnership with the Save Future Travel Coalition, asking the government to grant financial measures and extend support packages such as,
business rates relief, furlough scheme.
The letter read that the industry is aware that public health is government’s priority at present and they support the steps initiated by the government to prevent the transmission of the deadly disease, especially the new variant which emerged two months back.
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It further stated that the recovery of travel will take some time but at the same time it requires the maintenance of flexible furlough support to help businesses sail through the difficult times. Though the vaccine rollout programme is in full swing, it is too early to assign a specific date on the return to international travel and the industry requires some principles for restarting travel.
Other highlights of the letter are:
- The government should acknowledge that the industry cannot wait for the full rollout of the vaccination programme. Hence, there arises a need for a practical and cost-effective testing regime.
- The travel industry has asked the government to facilitate travel through a recognised vaccine certificate that will enable reduction in restrictions for the vaccinated travellers.
- They have also urged the government to return Foreign Office travel advice on Covid-19 on a regional basis.
Government under pressure
The industry has come forward to request the government to provide financial support measures and relax restrictions ahead of the summer holiday season.
Last week, trade body Seasonal Business in Travel warned the sector is on its knees financially, particularly after the government announced the hotel quarantine rule imposed from 15 February and has called for more tailored financial support until conditions improve.
Another group named Save Our Summer (SOS), comprising of more than 100 companies, has asked the UK government to provide a target date when holidays will be allowed to give consumers confidence in booking their holidays.
How was the industry affected?
According to the data published by Office for National Statistics (ONS), there was 86 per cent decrease in the economic output due to travel restrictions and 90 per cent for aviation for the period between February and December 2020.
The monthly air passenger arrivals to the UK plummeted 98.3 per cent, recording a figure of 112,300 in April 2020 from 6,804,900 in February 2020. The accommodation and travel agency businesses also witnessed the sharpest decline of 9.3 per cent in turnover in May 2020 in comparison with February 2020 levels.