Travel bosses claim sector ‘left in the cold’ by Sunak’s Covid support package

Travel bosses have struck, claiming that Chancellor Rishi Sunak left the sector “in the cold” after announcing financial support for the hospitality industry.

Overseas trip cancellations have risen following the introduction of stricter coronavirus testing and self-isolation rules for people arriving in the UK, PA reports.

Clive Wratten, chairman of the Business Travel Association, said: “It is devastating to see that business travel and its supply chain have once again been excluded from government funding.

“It is imperative that the arts, hospitality and leisure be supported by the latest wave of the pandemic.

“However, an important part of the UK economy and the engine of the global UK is being left in the lurch.

“We urgently need the Treasury Department to correct this oversight and support our industry through 2022.

“This is the only way to safely return to international travel if conditions permit.”

Luke Petherbridge, director of public affairs for the travel trade organization Abta, said Mr. Sunak’s announcement “ignores the direct impact of government decisions on businesses that depend on international travel.”

He said: “Travel agents, tour operators and tour operators are right to ask why they are not receiving the same treatment as other companies that are currently suffering.

“Average annual sales across the travel industry are down nearly 80% from pre-crisis levels before Omicron was launched, and the reintroduction of improved testing – both pre and post arrival – has generated significant costs and dampened consumer demand.

“As the sector nears the summer 2022 vacation booking sales peak, companies instead face another round of heartbreaking and demoralist cancellations without the government listening to the challenges they face.”

Mr Petherbridge urged the government to immediately lift “unnecessary travel restrictions”, provide the travel sector with grants similar to hospitality grants, and consider the need to reintroduce the vacation program.

Airport Operators Association executive director Karen Dee claimed that Mr. Sunak “always overlooks our sector when he announces industry-specific support measures.”

She continued, “Our airport competitors in the US, Germany and Italy have received generous grants to help them keep their critical operations up and running and be prepared for the recovery.

“The lack of significant government support means that the UK air traffic connectivity recovery will be longer and more difficult than our competitors’s recovery.

“This will harm UK jobs, damage our economy and undermine the global ambitions of the UK government.”

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