Barrhead Travel has appealed to the Scottish government to provide an emergency package to save 30,000 jobs in the travel industry.

The Glasgow-headquartered agency, which has most of its branches in Scotland, said first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s warning against booking overseas holidays on Tuesday was a “body-blow” to the sector and had caused “chaos and confusion” among travellers.

Jacqueline Dobson, president of the independent agency, which has more than 40 shops, said the statement contradicted the Scottish government and Foreign Office’s published rules on international travel which still list a number of popular destinations as open to holidaymakers.

She said: “This conflicting message is another body blow to an industry on which 30,000 Scots depend on for their livelihoods.

“There has been a clear demand for last minute holidays in September and October but this statement has caused real confusion and concern amongst Scottish holidaymakers.

“We have been inundated with calls from customers asking for advice on what they should do – whether to follow the first minister’s guidance or the Scottish Government and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s published rules. This conflict has caused chaos among concerned holidaymakers.”

Dobson said that Barrhead, as a member of Abta, is bound by and recognise Foreign Office guidelines. She added: “These are the guidelines that the UK travel industry follows. So, while our staff are doing our best to support our customers, this conflict means that they will not necessarily get their money back from tour operators if they cancel if there is no specific advisory against travel.

“We have worked hard to ensure the health and safety of all our employees and customers and are following the government guidelines on Covid-19.  We fully support their public health message, however, this has to be balanced by proactive measures to support our industry and the people who work in it,” added Dobson.

She noted the “dramatic reduction in capacity” Covid-19 has resulted in for the industry north of the border, Emirates flights to Dubai halved, Tui pulling out of Aberdeen until next year, a reduction in connecting services to long-haul routes from London and Amsterdam and “a risk of permanently losing key US routes to New York and Orlando”.

Dobson added: “We are asking the First Minister, not just on behalf of Barrhead Travel but on behalf of the whole sector, to engage with us today to protect the long-term sustainability of an industry that is a key driver of the Scottish economy. Protecting public health and protecting jobs need not be mutually exclusive.”

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