Travel trade union the TSSA has called on the government to help save Britain’s high street travel agents in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said he feared ‘travel shops on the high street will be a thing of the past’ as a result of the impact of the pandemic.
The union boss called for lessons to be learnt from the collapse of Thomas Cook and urged ministers to act immediately after receiving a reply to a letter he wrote to business secretary Alok Sharma on March 23, outlining the union’s concerns about the economic fallout of the pandemic.
The reply, which came this week from business minister Kwasi Kwarteng, said the government was ‘closely monitoring the impact on the travel industry’ of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the letter, the minister encouraged travel company owners to ‘fully explore the government’s comprehensive support package’.
Cortes said the response, three months on, ‘simply does not do justice to the gravity of the situation.’
He said: “Our members, and those working right across the travel trade, need urgent action.
“From where I stand it looks as though the government has its fingers in its ears over the plight of our travel trade which has been so badly hit by Covid-19.
“What we need to know, without delay, is what the plan is for the future of our British travel trade which is valued by many millions around our country.”
The union is happy to work with ministers on a recovery plan, he said.
He added: “It is not enough to ‘monitor events’, it’s time to roll sleeves up, protect jobs, and get our travel trade back on its feet, otherwise we run the risk that travel shops on the high street will be a thing of the past.
“The past twelve months have seen the collapse of both Flybe and Thomas Cook due to lack of government action. Thomas Cook’s demise alone cost the taxpayer more than £150 million. With shoppers returning to our high streets it’s vital to learn the lessons from Thomas Cook to make sure travel shops flourish once more.”
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