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UK Travel Agents Urge New PM Rishi Sunak to Prioritise Tourism Industry Support

UK travel agents lobby group ABTA has urged new British prime minister Rishi Sunak to support the tourism industry and prioritise economic stability and cost of living support.

“As Rishi Sunak takes up the job as the UK’s third prime minister this year, what businesses and consumers now need is stability, clarity, and confidence that we are set on a path to economic recovery,” said Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA – The Travel Association.

“We also need the [UK] Government to understand the delicate position the travel industry is in and the support needed. We’ve had a decent summer of trading, but that is on the back of two years of no travel during the pandemic, and consumer budgets are now feeling the squeeze of the rising cost of living. 

“Throughout the pandemic, and in the first leadership race, we have been making Mr Sunak aware of the challenges faced by our industry. We’ve also stressed the opportunity a thriving outbound travel sector offers the UK in terms of economic growth,” Mr Tanzer said.

Latest forecasts from ABTA show that, with the right conditions, the UK outbound travel industry could grow 15% by 2027, outperforming many other sectors.

“To harness this growth opportunity, the Government needs to put a framework in place which supports businesses through their continued recovery from the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, and next week’s fiscal statement offers the opportunity to do that,” said Mr Tanzer.

In addition, ABTA wants the UK Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt to:

  • Extend existing retail-based business rates support beyond the end of the financial year April 2023.
  • Provide business support to travel businesses that are not based in retail premises, such as tour operators, who have been unable to benefit from existing support mechanisms. 
  • Work closely with the British Business Bank and lenders to encourage a sympathetic approach to businesses that are struggling to repay COVID debts over the coming months. 
  • Freeze Air Passenger Duty in the upcoming fiscal statement for the remainder of the current Parliamentary term.
  • Recognise travel as one of the industry sectors deemed vulnerable as and when short term fuel support measures come to an end.
Geoff Percival
Geoff Percival
Geoff has worked in business, news, consumer and travel journalism for more than 25 years; having worked for and contributed to the likes of The Irish Examiner, Business & Finance, Business Plus, The Sunday Times, The Irish News, Senior Times, and The Sunday Tribune.

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