The Business Travel Association (BTA) has warned that 50% of all jobs in the sector are at serious risk.
In a speech to the BTA’s Virtual Conference, CEO Clive Wratten warned members of the seismic consequences for the sector of the 14-day quarantine, and the prospect that travel corridors will focus on leisure destinations despite a growing pent up demand for business travel.
Wratten said: “One in two jobs in the business travel sector are at real risk. The blunt force of quarantine has made the UK a closed island – especially for business travellers – and our Government is not listening carefully enough to the grave challenges our sector is facing. They need to wake-up quickly.”
The BTA has urged the Government to introduce travel corridors and pilot testing on arrival for business travellers.
He added: “We have made it very clear to the Transport Secretary, and the Home Secretary, that travel corridors cannot just focus on tourism. Business travel hotspots such as Amsterdam, Paris and Hong Kong must be included. Without effective and focused business travel we will jeopardise the £220 billion our industry contributes to UK GDP each year.”
Business travel is a proven economic enabler and failure to support the sector will damage UK plc. The BTA have made it clear to the Treasury that the furlough scheme must be extended for the business travel sector well beyond October.
Wratten concluded: “This Government – and our economy – cannot allow the destruction of the business travel sector to be a lasting legacy of COVID-19. Extending the furlough scheme will be both a saviour for our industry’s jobs and a solid investment in much needed growth.”
Wratten’s speech to the BTA’s members was given at a Virtual Conference yesterday, which was hosted online in place of the Association’s originally planned Conference in Belfast.
The BTA’s members account for over 90% of UK expenditure on business travel, employing 14,500 people, and making over 30 million annual transactions which result in turnover in excess of £11.5 billion.