Trade bodies from across the UK aviation and travel industries are coming together for a travel industry day of action (#traveldayofaction) on 23 June to put pressure on the UK Government to support a safe return to international travel in time for the peak summer period.
The day of action will be calling on the UK Government to:
- Allow international travel to return safely and in a risk managed way by properly implementing the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan.
- Bring forward a package of tailored financial support to recognise that the unlocking of international travel, and hence businesses’ ability to trade and generate income, will be much slower than first anticipated, and more gradual than for businesses in the domestic economy.
Organisers and supporters of the cross-industry day of action already include ABTA, Airlines UK, the Airport Operators Association, BAR UK, UKinbound, the Business Travel Association, Advantage Travel Partnership, TTNG, and the other 11 Members of the Save Future Travel Coalition, with other industry organisations welcome to join.
The bodies are calling on all corners of the travel industry – every airline, airport, tour operator, travel agent, supplier and partner – to get involved and support the activities of the day.
Organised Lobby at Houses of Parliament
The day of action will involve an organised lobby at the Houses of Parliament – which would see Members of Parliament meet with a large number of their constituents at Westminster on a single day. There are also plans being developed for events across other parts of the UK, targeted at the Devolved Administrations. The event is intended to generate and attract national media attention and will also seek to gain traction on social media.
The day of action will take place on 23 June, just ahead of when the Government is expected to discuss and decide on the next steps for international travel, with an announcement currently scheduled for 28 June. At this review, the Government will be reviewing both the traffic light list and also the requirements, measures and systems in place for international travel. The day’s activities will start from 12.30pm allowing people time to travel down for the day.
The day of action is particularly targeting the UK Government given the strategic review on 28 June. The industry is encouraging businesses across all four nations – including Northern Ireland – to support the day of action, either by attending the Westminster event or getting involved in planned activities closer to home. The SPAA and ANITA are among the organisations involved, with the intention to also hold events that are targeted at Devolved Administrations.
ABTA testifies before Treasury Select Committee
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA – The Travel Association, gave evidence yesterday afternoon to the Treasury Select Committee (Monday 7 June) on the economic impact of coronavirus.
In his testimony, he highlighted that the situation for travel is a lot bleaker compared to other sectors, with data compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that travel is the sector that was earliest and hardest by the pandemic – with revenues down between 86-90 per cent monthly versus February 2020.
He also said that ABTA Members are looking for a “complete step change” in the Government’s approach to supporting the industry both on restarting travel and recognising the need for tailored financial support.
“These next weeks will be critical for the travel industry,” Tanzer said. “We have been working together since the start of the pandemic to make the sector’s case on what the industry needs to get through this crisis and return safely to international travel. We’re in a situation where the Government is curtailing overseas travel but isn’t providing tailored support for the travel industry. The longer this goes on the more jobs, livelihoods and businesses are at risk.”
The Situation in Ireland
The situation in Ireland is as perilous. While the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has twice addressed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and the government has acknowledged that the travel industry has been the ‘hardest hit’ by the pandemic, no bespoke financial assistance has been given to the industry. After the first address to the committee in February, ITAA CEO Pat Dawson said: “Whilst we appreciate the schemes that the Government has put in place, there is no differentiation between businesses that have been able to open for intermittent periods, businesses which are down only 30 per cent (for EWSS) and 75 per cent (for CRSS), and travel agents who have been down 90 per cent consistently since March 2020 with no respite.”
Nevertheless, the government has signed off on allowing “non-essential” international travel from 19 July, which will include the use of the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificates.