Growth in the travel industry will not return unless banks “come back to the party” and start lending to businesses and consumers, according to a former boss of MyTravel.
Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Glasgow-based Minoan Group, said the banks’ “cavalier attitude” was to blame for the current financial climate, but they had now gone “too far” in the opposite direction by reining in lending.
Wilson told the first Travel Weekly Business Breakfast in London this week that the banks’ stance restricted travel businesses looking to acquire or grow.
And he added this was also limiting spending by consumers who were having to focus on saving to meet increased demands for big-ticket items such as mortgage deposits.
Wilson said: “Travel companies were criticised [for their financial management] but the banking community became far too cavalier. What messed up was not the travel industry, it was the banking industry.”
Contrary to claims, banks were “closed” to would-be borrowers, he said, adding: “If the government has to do one thing, it is to get the banks lending again. They need to come back to the party.”
In the past year, Minoan Group has developed a portfolio of travel businesses in Scotland including King World Travel, John Semple Travel and Stewart Travel, and Wilson said bank lending would be key to the company’s ongoing “buy and build” strategy elsewhere in the UK.
Other speakers at the event included Iain Andrew, senior vice-president of Travel Republic owner Dnata Travel; Peter Kerkar, chief executive of Cox & Kings; and Richard Prosser, chairman of Audley Travel and CarTrawler.
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