Travel bosses blame government Covid policies for industry crisis

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Fears the Government may tighten travel rules as infections rise

The bosses have claimed government travel policies “stood in the way of recovery” and made a fresh plea for support as it found nine out of ten holidays were affected by coronavirus restrictions.

A survey of nearly 200 travel agents conducted in late October – before England’s second national lockdown was announced – found that 91 percent of the holidays in July and August have been canceled or changed due to issues related to the pandemic.

According to the study, the number of new bookings expected by the end of the year is likely to decline by an astonishing 93 percent compared to the same period last year.

Trading group Abta suggested the number of jobs lost or threatened in the outbound travel and related industries since the pandemic began rose from 90,000 in August to 164,000.

It found that bookings for the next year are 45 percent of expected bookings without the pandemic, which “although well below normal” suggests that “the demand for travel remains.”

Mark Tanzer, Abta CEO, said: “The travel industry has not had a significant chance to recover. Bookings have largely disappeared. Cancellations are common when destinations are faded in and out on the list of travel corridors and the government does not yet need to provide a test framework for industry and customers.

“The results are strong for companies – job losses are increasing at an alarming rate and viable long-standing companies are closing their doors for good.

“It is short-sighted by the government to overlook the industry as travel is fundamental to the UK’s economic recovery.

“We need the government to intervene and support the industry – as has been the case for other sectors – so that the industry is ready to support the general economic recovery in the UK.”

A government spokeswoman responded, “We recognize the challenging times the travel sector is facing due to Covid-19. That is why we will do everything we can to help this critical industry.

“Protecting jobs is a top priority, and expanding the vacation program, as well as broader support through measures related to airport slots, loans and tax deferrals, will help companies keep jobs safe when we head into winter.

“The Global Travel Taskforce will continue to work with the industry to develop measures to support the long-term future of the industry.”

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