The travel sector is unwilling to be a “political orphan” any longer, ABTA chief executive, Mark Tanzer, has told an industry audience.
“Responsibility for outbound travel is spread across a number of government departments – and a single individual or department is needed to represent the interests of the sector,” he argued.
Tanzer was speaking at the Travel Matters conference earlier today.
Aviation minister, Robert Courts, had been due to appear at the event but pulled out at the last minute, a move Tanzer said was symptomatic of a wider disregard for the sector in government.
“We had hoped to have the minister for aviation join us here today, but unfortunately he has withdrawn because of a late diary clash.
“His absence today, necessary as I am sure it is, is nonetheless symbolic of a wide – in fact widening – gap between government and the outbound travel sector.”
He added: “When you look at how other countries have supported their sectors, we have not matched that level of support.
“We are way behind, and in many ways, we are the outliers in not having done this.
“We at ABTA have been making this case for months now and the urgency is increasing.
“The more of the summer season that is lost to travel restrictions, the more perilous the situation becomes.”
Tanzer explained 57 per cent of ABTA members said in February this year they only had cash for a further six months – “so jobs will be lost in the coming months,” he added.
ABTA has organised a Day of Action tomorrow in order to get this message across to the government.
“There is a bias against outbound travel in this country, with the government believing all money should be spent in the UK on domestic trips,” continued Tanzer.
“This is unfair, our members, who sell outbound trips from the UK, contribute a tremendous amount to the economy.”
He added: “The government has further damaged the immediate prospects for international travel by warning against leisure travel to amber list countries.
“This is despite having its own system of testing and quarantining on return, adding another major customer disincentive to the hurdles that are already in place.”
He concluded: “This is the darkest hour for the travel industry.
“Though it is said the darkest hour is just before dawn, we need to see the light soon.”