Travel aims to “make its voice heard” in Parliament today as MPs debate aviation and support for tourism following an industry campaign “to show the government the depth of support for getting travel restarted”.
Members of the Future of Aviation Group of MPs were expected to subject ministers to fierce questioning about the government’s limited support for the travel industry to date.
Abta director of public affairs Luke Petherbridge said: “The government has been heavily focused on getting the schools back and can now move to deal with the longer term economic issues.
“It’s likely to take a tailored approach to industries that have been slower to restart or are facing a more prolonged recovery as the travel sector clearly is.”
Abta is working alongside Airlines UK, the Airport Operators Association, Iata and the Future of Aviation Group as well as leading the Save Future Travel Coalition with Aito, the Advantage Travel Partnership, the SPAA, the Business Travel Association, UKinbound and the Association of Touring & Adventure Suppliers.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Petherbridge explained: “We’d like to see the regionalisation of quarantine policy, testing as a way to reopen an increasing number of destinations, and an APD holiday to incentivise people back into the air in the same way Eat Out to Help Out incentivised people back to restaurants.
“We want support for small to medium-sized businesses – things like retail grants and an extension of business rates relief and VAT deferrals into next year – and ongoing salary support.
“We know the furlough scheme is ending [at the end of October]. The government has been clear on that. But there are a number of sectors, not just travel, where if we want to retain jobs the extension of salary support in some way is going to be necessary.”
Industry figures have accused the government of not listening to the sector, but Petherbridge said: “It’s more accurate to say the government hasn’t yet acted on this stuff.
“There have been working groups going on. We’ve been part of the transport group looking at testing for a number of months, led by the aviation sector.
“We’re having pretty regular dialogue not just around testing and quarantine but also financial support.
“There has been stuff from the government already – unprecedented levels of support with the furlough scheme and retail grant schemes. It’s just that we need more.
“Clearly, we want more, and we’re working in the Save Future Travel Coalition and with the aviation bodies to deliver a concerted lobbying campaign between now and the Autumn Budget.”
The campaign has already won the support of the Labour Party and of the more than 80 MPs in the Future of Aviation Group, and two national newspapers have launched campaigns to get travel restarted – The Telegraph with Test4Travel and the Daily Mail with ‘Get Britain Flying Again’.
Petherbridge insisted “It’s important we make our voices heard. We’ve got the Budget coming, probably in early November, which is likely to be when the government announces the next comprehensive economic support package and we need to push ahead of that.”
At the same time, he said: “We need to be careful not to be seen to be speaking purely in the interests of the industry. Right now, the priority needs to be public health.
“But we’re talking about how we mitigate risk in order to restart travel and help the UK economy, and that is ultimately in the public interest as well.
“The economy needs to be restarted. There is recognition of that among the wider public.”
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