Abta ramps up pressure for financial support amid 'deepening crisis'

Abta wrote an open letter to both the chancellor & the transport secretary, urging them to support outbound travel by fulfilling the requirements of the Travel Day of Action last week.Rishi Sunak & Grant Shapps are urged to offer tailored financial support to business and open up travel by including more countries to the greenlist. Also, remove quarantine for travelers to amber-list countries who were vaccinated prior to July 31st.This letter was sent at a time when travel businesses are facing increased furlough costs, business rates payments and other financial difficulties starting July 1, and as the government reviews international travel requirements.Some destinations were added to green list on Thursday, including Malta, the Balearic Islands of Spain and the Portuguese archipelago Madeira, as well as some Caribbean islands.Shapps confirmed that the government will allow quarantine-free entry to the UK for those from countries on the amber list, but did not give any specifics about when.Abtas letter explains that this period of the year would be the busiest for UK outbound travel businesses. It also adds: The industry is in a crisis.This explains why these crucial summer weeks are where most travel businesses make their income. Often, this is around two-thirds of an annual income that carries them through the rest of year.It says that this year is different. Weve lost a significant portion of the season. The ongoing restrictions on travel and the pending rise of furloughs and business rates payments mean that many small- to medium-sized travel businesses are on the brink of financial collapse.Abta says to the ministers that this devastation could still be avoided if the government took immediate action to help businesses get through the crisis.The association referred to the demands it made at last week's Travel Day of Action, where hundreds petitioned MPs at events at Westminster, Edinburgh, and Belfast.Abtas requirementsTo put in place the traffic light system exactly as intendedProvide financial support to travel companies by committing to provide a customized package, which includes furlough support extension and relief of business rates at current levels.The letter states that the addition of popular destinations to the green list or green watchlist this week is welcome but does not provide the necessary boost to travel to save jobs and businesses, and help us recover. The government should add more countries to the green list and relax quarantine rules for amber-list countries to fully vaccinated travelers.The success of the UK's vaccine rollout has been well-recognized by ministers. As other countries with lower vaccination rates than us open their borders, it is now that we can fully capitalise on our success.It states: We are encouraged by the government's confirmation of an intention to relax rules regarding fully vaccinated persons visiting Amber destinations and to eliminate advice against traveling to these areas. These changes must be implemented before July 31st if they are going to make any significant difference.Travel industry jobs and businesses cannot be saved by a vague promise that they will do it later in the summer.The latter said that financial support is a priority. He should extend furlough support to travel companies and provide business rates relief at current levels. This will be in addition to a dedicated grant program to assist them through the difficult weeks and months ahead.Although 10% of furlough payments and a third business rates are affordable for businesses that were able to trade during the pandemic, and have re-opened since lockdown lifted it is still a frightening prospect for many members. These costs will cripple businesses in the outbound tourism industry, as they won't be able to make income since the start of the crisis and travel restrictions remain severe.Abta claims that the gradual elimination of support throughout the economy is based upon parallel giving back freedoms and lifting restrictions which will allow businesses to trade again.It states: The prime minister and many cabinet ministers have publicly admitted that the process won't be followed for international travel for several months. We have heard nothing from the government regarding a plan for continuing support. Instead, we are told that 7 billion dollars has been given to the aviation industry. As you state, this support was provided to the aviation industry and not to tour agents or travel agents.Travel agents and tour operators are often coming to us with stories of people who have worked hard to build a successful and sustainable business. Then, they find their lives ruined and face the unavoidable decision to reduce staff. The industry has lost 195,000 jobs or is at risk according to our latest analysis. In the absence of any government action, this number will rise significantly in the next weeks.The summer season is crucial for the outbound travel sector. To save jobs and businesses, we are asking you now to take action and get the industry back on track.