ABTA has hit out at the government after travel agents were removed from a list of non-essential businesses that were forced to close – essentially ruling out the possibility that travel agents would be considered for the Lockdown Restriction Grants Scheme.
ABTA said the decision means that travel agents will not be automatically considered for £3000 Lockdown Restrictions Support Grants and demonstrated a ‘lack of understanding’ from the government over the severe situation travel businesses have found themselves in since March.
Urging ministers to reconsider, ABTA said: “The decision to remove travel agents from the list of closed businesses shows a lack of understanding for how the travel industry works.
“ABTA has explained this to Ministers and officials a number of times, and we are disappointed that a decision with such serious ramifications has been taken without officials engaging directly with the sector on the practicalities.”
The Cabinet Office defended its decision, saying that as travel agents are able to operate remotely they were therefore not closed by law.
ABTA has dismissed this, insisting travel agents are dependent on footfall for a ‘significant part of their trade’.
“For example, florists can operate click and collect services in a manner that is not an option to travel agents,” ABTA said.
“The Regulations adopted by the Government have removed the ability of the industry’s customers to take holidays at this time, and the policy decisions taken throughout the crisis, while correctly taken with public health in mind, have severely restricted the ability of companies to sell organised travel for the past eight months.
“This is a situation that has not been faced by many other sectors or businesses throughout the crisis.
“We also urge the Chancellor to make tailored financial support to all travel businesses, in recognition of the fact that the international travel industry has been experiencing conditions akin to the lockdown since the crisis began in March.”