Abta chair warns industry will ‘run out of cash’ amid new travel rules

The latest round of travel curbs has meant holiday bookings have ceased, so the sector will run out of cash, according to the chair of Abta.

Speaking on TV interviews, Alistair Rowland – group chief executive at Blue Bay Travel – said holiday sales have stopped because of consumer concerns about the reintroduction of pre-departure tests and destinations going on the red list with very little notice.

The new PCR testing rule came into effect on Tuesday (December 7) and Nigeria became the latest African nation to join the red list on Monday – with the announcement about changes being made on Saturday evening.

Rowland told the Jeremy Vine on 5 show that the cost of tests was one factor but the fear of being stuck in resort was a more important problem.

“People going away imminently would potentially miss Christmas or their kids might not make it back for the start of term,” he said.

“What it has done is killed the travel industry… exactly [transport secretary] Grant Shapps’ comments of Thursday night that were changed on Saturday.

“Bookings have gone from a fragile level of recovery…to zero. Yesterday was zero.

“The industry will run out of cash this winter. We will see thousands, of particularly travel agencies, run out of cash this winter because government has never recognised the support for the travel industry.”

He had the same message for Sky News, saying: “The industry will not survive at all if there are no sales, and right now, there are no sales.

“Since the announcement of last weekend, nobody is booking anything in the near term.

“In September and October, half the sales were for this winter season.

“It’s a very significant change and Abta is all for the health and safety of consumers but only if government finally recognised the industry for the first time and supports it through this series of changes.”

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