Today marks a year since the Travel Day of Action – one of the biggest political events in the travel industry’s history which took place on 23 June 2021.
ABTA and UKinbound were among the organisations leading the planning and delivery of the day’s activity which saw, in the space of two weeks, political demonstrations organised across the UK – to promote the value of our industry, and to urge the Government to adopt a more permissive approach to international travel policy.
An event outside the Houses of Parliament saw over 800 people from across the industry attend, along with 52 MPs – with many more engaging in other ways throughout the week including directly meeting with constituents, and national and international media which resulted in over 1,400 pieces of coverage.
In a message to supporters, ABTA said:
We’re proud of the joint working it took to pull that event together, amidst severe logistical challenges, and we also want to thank everyone who took part in events across the entirety of the UK. The Travel Day of Action was a powerful show of unity, and pride in what we do as an international industry. The months following the day were still difficult, but the benefits of the industry having a collective voice were seen when the UK was amongst the first major tourism economies to lift its travel restrictions.
While much has changed over the last 12 months, the anniversary is a good opportunity to take a moment to reflect on the importance of the outbound and inbound industries working together.
Our Members and their customers may be different – ABTA focuses on sending people from the UK overseas or around the UK, whereas UKinbound looks to bring visitors from abroad to our shores. But there is a strong interdependence and interaction between all parts of the UK’s tourism mix, inbound, outbound and domestic. We have many shared policy interests, for example, around ensuring competitive taxes, and much of the physical infrastructure that supports all parts of UK tourism is the same – travellers use the same airlines, airports, ports, roads and tunnels.
In recognition of the above, ABTA and UKinbound have been working together for many years, along with colleagues from across the industry, to advance collective policy goals. The sector has a long history of working together, whether that be on longstanding forums and bodies, including the Tourism Industry Council and Tourism Alliance, or through coming together in times of crisis, as we have done as an organised sector through the Future Travel Coalition.
Brexit is a case in point. Labour mobility is an issue we have actively been working on, advocating the extension of the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme as something that would have mutual benefits – enabling outbound businesses to more easily get UK national staff into destinations to support UK tourists overseas, while also offering access to a wider labour pool, including workers with vital language skills for the inbound and domestic tourism industry here in the UK.
New Ministers, governments and changing political environments mean that, as it has always been, demonstrating our value as an economic powerhouse and major provider of employment, whether inbound or outbound, will be an ongoing task.
While we won’t always agree on everything or have all the same priorities, the Members of ABTA and UKinbound have plenty of shared interests and joint working between our organisations has never been more important. We’re committed to spreading the message that travel and tourism is a powerful force for good in the world.