UK Travel Industry Asks for Help as Almost 1 in 5 Jobs Lost or at Risk

August 24, 2020 Updated: August 24, 2020

British travel association ABTA on Monday wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak asking for “tailored support” to help the travel industry survive after being devastated by the CCP virus pandemic.

ABTA’s Chief Executive Mark Tanzer said “well-known and respected businesses that would normally be successful” have fallen into administration, and more will follow unless the government intervenes.

Only 65 percent of the travel sector is back in operation following lockdowns and international travel restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, with parts of travel businesses such as cruises and school trips still shut.

In a survey of 76 of its member businesses, ABTA found that 39,000 jobs related to overseas travel are estimated to have been lost or placed at risk since the start of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. The number reaches over 90,000 if job losses in supply chains are included.

Ninety-six percent of travel businesses said another economic shutdown to contain a second wave of the CCP virus outbreak will have a “critical” or “serious” effect on them.

With the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme winding down, Tanzer said the travel sector has hit a “critical point,” and the ending of the furlough scheme will be “ruinous” for people’s livelihoods.

“With the government’s stop start measures, the restart of travel has not gone as hoped for the industry, and sadly businesses continue to be adversely affected and jobs are being lost at an alarming rate,” he said.

Almost two thirds of travel businesses have made redundancies or started a consultation process, with more expected to do so in the coming months, ABTA said.

Travel picked up recently as the pandemic became less severe in Europe and the holiday season started.

However, after Britain added France to the list of destinations that holidaymakers needed to self quarantine from on Aug. 15, 160,000 Britons swarmed planes, trains, and ferries, trying to return home early to avoid the quarantine.

The same scene happened in Croatia a week after.

It was another blow to already low consumer confidence.

ABTA said that despite the difficulties, four in ten businesses were confident travel can return to 2019 levels by 2022.

In order to help businesses survive until 2022 and protect as many jobs as possible, ABTA asked the government to move to a regionalized quarantine list instead of whole countries and introduce a testing regime as well as provide recovery grants.

Business support measures should also be extended into 2021/22 and targeted salary support kept until March 2021, ABTA said.

To encourage people to book holidays, ABTA has asked for a suspension of the UK’s air passenger duty tax until summer 2021 to make air travel cheaper for UK consumers.

Without this government intervention, ABTA said, 83 percent of travel firms reported they will face difficulties.