The Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers has called on the government to offer clarity for consumers and a clear roadmap to allow the travel industry to trade its way out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The association, which represents 20 specialist operators in the touring and adventure sectors, joined criticism of messages from ministers, including transport secretary Grant Shapps’ comments that people should not currently book holidays at home or abroad.

Brian Young, Atas chairman, said: “As an industry we have been very clear that public health must be of the utmost priority, but there is absolutely nothing to prevent customers thinking ahead to their next holiday and making a booking from a reputable provider that offers flexibility and full consumer protection.

“While we appreciate that there is some uncertainty around the lifting of restrictions in the months ahead, Atas members have tours and holidays on sale throughout 2021, 2022 and as far ahead as 2023, so for the transport secretary and others to suggest people should not be considering a holiday booking at this time is both unhelpful and misleading.

“Touring and adventure operators are leading the way in creating health and safety protocols to allow a safe return to travel and offer a range of flexible terms and conditions and amendment and cancellation policies to give customers peace of mind when booking.”

Young added: “The government has consistently undervalued the importance of the travel and aviation industries to the UK’s future economic rebound and with these comments seems intent on undermining any prospects of these sectors’ recovery.

“Along with the other members of the Save Future Travel Coalition, we urge ministers to provide the industry with a roadmap out of these restrictions, alongside meaningful financial support, to allow our established and well-run member operators and travel agent partners to trade their way out of this devastating crisis.”