Abta has led calls for the UK government to follow the Scottish parliament in providing sector-specific support for travel agents across the UK.

Holyrood approved a £5 million package as part of wider business support measures north of the border worth £185 million on Wednesday, with tour operators and coach companies set to benefit from a separate £6 million.

While the measures were welcomed by agencies in Scotland, and Abta, the association said it was “imperative” similar support schemes were implemented across the UK.

An Abta spokesperson said: “While this is great news to travel businesses in Scotland, we know that many of our members across the UK are currently still struggling to access the much-needed funds to keep them afloat. We will continue to make the case for travel businesses across all the UK with the appropriate Administrations. It’s imperative that the Westminster Government, and other Devolved Administrations, set up similar schemes to recognise the unique circumstances that travel businesses have faced throughout the crisis.”

Barrhead Travel president Jacqueline Dobson agreed. She said: “We now urgently turn to the UK government to provide reciprocal support as this has to be replicated for travel agencies all across the UK.”

Calls were also backed by TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes, who said Westminster now has “no excuse” not to follow suit.

Cortes said: “Our union gives full backing to the very welcome help being offered to Scotland’s travel agents. It comes not a moment too soon for a sector which has been hit really hard by the pandemic right across these islands.

“For months now our union has been calling on the Westminster Government to step in and help our travel trade, sadly without success. Since March we have seen more than 500 jobs lost in Scotland and thousands more across Britain, with businesses going to the wall.

“We know the Covid health crisis carries with it an economic emergency and the inaction of those in power is simply not tenable. Let’s have no more excuses in London, it’s time now for the government there to follow suit and make sure our travel trade across Britain remains viable once we beat this terrible virus.”

Julia Lo-Bue Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership also called for UK-wide support measures having welcomed the decision in Scotland.

She said: “Over the course of this year, the whole travel industry has been crying out for sector-specific support and we’ve made numerous attempts to request a similar package from Westminster, but so far these requests have been ignored. We’re hopeful that this stance from the Scottish government will pave the way, and England and the other devolved nations will follow suit.”