Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer demanded “decisive and urgent action” from the government and its Global Travel Taskforce as he opened the Travel Convention on Wednesday, complaining that support for the industry so far “has been too little too late”.

The industry had “experienced cardiac arrest” since March, Tanzer told the Convention, insisting: “We’re more than six months into this crisis and the basic tools to help build customer confidence to travel are still missing.

“We must move away from blanket Foreign Office advice and have a regionalised approach to advice and quarantine. We urgently need a testing system that is rapid, efficient and trusted.”

Transport secretary Grant Shapps was due to address the online Convention immediately after the Abta chief and Tanzer urged him: “I implore you to have something in place soon. We need direct sector support.”

Tanzer told the Convention: “The Chancellor has recognised that the furlough scheme should be extended for hospitality.

“But health measures have effectively closed the travel industry so we’re in the same boat. Only tailored support will enable us to get through the winter and avoid tens, if not hundreds of thousands of job losses.”

Tanzer noted the failure to pay prompt refunds had “created a lot of anger and mistrust” among consumers.

He pointed out “the difficulty in extracting cash refunds from airlines” was one of the main reasons and argued: “The idea that airlines don’t fail is surely gone forever, yet there is still no airline insolvency provision in place.”

Tanzer told the Convention: “We should look hard at where the risk burden falls in travel, but we must also be careful what we wish for. If we strip out customer protections, we strip out a lot of the value we add.”

Abta launched a report this morning, Tourism for Good – A Roadmap for Rebuilding Travel and Tourism, which aims to put sustainability at the heart of travel’s recovery.

Tanzer insisted: “We have to look at the whole spectrum of sustainability issues and ask ‘How can we do more?’”