Abta unveils General Election manifesto

Cutting carbon emissions, reviewing airline insolvency and guaranteeing overseas workers’ rights must be a priority for the UK’s next government.

With three weeks to go until the December 12 election, Abta is urging political parties to recognise the importance of travel and tourism, which it says contributed £146 billion to the economy in 2018.

In its ‘Value Tourism’ election manifesto, the association, which represents more than 4,300 travel brands, highlights that the outbound and inbound sectors support more than three million jobs and outlines three priorities to political parties hoping to form the next government.

They are: working with industry to achieve carbon reduction targets and bringing forward an airline insolvency consultation; securing the workforce of the future by focusing on the need for a liberal and open immigration regime and ensuring a reciprocal deal on posted workers in the EU; reducing APD in line with EU rivals and reforming business rates to support high street travel businesses.

The manifesto is being sent to all candidates and will be used to work with MPs after the election.

Launching the manifesto two months after the collapse of Thomas Cook, Abta’s head of public affairs, Luke Petherbridge, said: “There has never been a more important time to build confidence in travel, and government plays a vital role in delivering this.

“One of our asks is to lead a consultation on a comprehensive regime of consumer protection in the event of further airline insolvencies. A long-awaited solution is required to ensure there is clarity for consumers, and fair and equal treatment for all companies who [sell] flight seats”.

UKHospitality also launched its manifesto this week, which called for government co-operation and a reform of business rates.

The UK trade body has developed data mapping tools for businesses to see how many people are employed in the sector in their constituency and urged members to contact MPs to stress the sector’s importance.

Some business leaders this week repeated calls for clarity over Brexit, but downplayed concerns over its impact on bookings.

Travel Counsellors chief executive Steve Byrne said: “It affects travel booking patterns, but not the overall level of demand. We’ve seen a shift from short to long-haul. In a time of uncertainty, people might book later, but they will still book.”

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said Brexit uncertainty had become “normalised”. He said: “People lived with the fact the deadline moved and are getting on with their plans and booking flights as they did”.

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