The managing director of ski operator Harris Holidays, which entered administration last week, says the government could have saved the business without spending a penny.
Dan Fox, who ran the business – which traded as Ski Weekends – for 14 years – said the company, and its staff, could have survived if the government backed a loan.
In an interview with Travel Weekly, Fox explained that the firm’s application for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme failed despite the effect being to reduce monthly repayments from a previous loan under the new deal from £12K to £8K over a longer repayment period.
“The lender was told by the government that it has to apply the same conditions as normal trading times, so they decided we couldn’t afford it. But that’s lunacy, it’s obviously not normal times. I’m distraught, its heart-breaking.
“We tried everything to save the business, this is not about us trying to get away – it’s indicative of how the travel industry has been screwed by the government. Our lives, and 18 other people’s lives, have been seriously affected – because the government wouldn’t lend us money.
“We weren’t asking for handouts, we wanted to borrow the money to survive. The government failed to act in a way that was appropriate or responsible – or in line with other European governments. They could’ve acted swiftly to help companies across the industry. The package travel regulations are an EU directive and the EU advised members to change them to help the industry with the Covid situation.
“It’s probably going to cost the government more for us to go bust than it would’ve to loan us the money.”
Fox also said the government failed to ‘underpin’ its flagship furlough scheme, and that it “fundamentally failed” over the consumer messaging around the protection of refund credit notes for package holidays, and called insurance companies “disgraceful” for their handling of the refunds situation.
“How is it in favour of the consumer if businesses end up in administration?,” Fox asked. “The CAA will reclaim what they can [from Harris Holidays and credit card companies] but the rest of it will come from tax-payer money.”
He added: “If the government had have come out on day one and said RCNs were protected, the majority of the public would’ve accepted them. In reality, the government’s indecision, or attempt to keep the consumer happy, has left us at loggerheads [with customers].”
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