Opinion: What should be on the agenda for travel in next month’s budget

Andy Freeth, managing director, Travel 2

Whatever you call it – summer budget or emergency budget – I am looking forward to hearing what George Osborne has to say next month.

The Tories need to grab the bull by the horns and make some definitive decisions on the issues affecting the travel industry.

I love change and am keen to see whether we can get a few things right this time around.

Never one to shy away from getting involved, I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you my thoughts on what I would like to see achieved by the new government.

Looking to the skies, we need a swift response, regardless of the recommendation of the Davies Commission on airport capacity.

With Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the UAE showing us how it’s done in terms of building and expanding airports to encourage tourism, it’s about time we followed suit.

As we discovered at the recent ITT conference, even the smaller emirates such as Ras Al Khaimah are bringing new airlines in, with Royal Brunei and Qatar starting flights to the destination soon.

The travel industry is buoyant. More and more Brits are broadening their horizons and heading to warmer climes to explore new destinations. We need to make sure that we can facilitate this better – we’ve been dragging our heels for far too long.

Similarly, with rail fares, the continuing hike in prices is unjustifiable. I nearly collapsed when I took the train from Leeds to Glasgow recently.

While here at Travel 2 we have our eyes firmly on overseas travel, making exploring the UK more expensive than it already is isn’t good for inbound tourism or the staycation.

I’ve read that the number of Britons holidaying at home has more than doubled since 2011. Now I’m no mathematician, but that’s a pretty decent cash boost for our economy.

We should be making it more affordable for Brits to explore Old Blighty, not less. Surely in the long term, extortionate rails fares are going to backfire on the domestic tourism industry?

As the Air Passenger Duty (APD) debate rumbles on, I defy anyone who has seen the stories surrounding the recent statistics from PwC – stating that scrapping APD would boost economic growth, create thousands of jobs and pay for itself through higher revenues from other taxes – and still not agree that it has to go.
Helping to make travel more affordable for all passengers? Come on, it’s a no-brainer – let’s see some action.

On a lighter note, and with tongue firmly in cheek, we could always look to introduce a fake-tan tax to encourage more overseas trips.

I’m sure Travel 2’s sales boss, Gordon McCreadie, would be the hardest hit by this. Did you know that he holds an award for being the most orange man in travel?

Finally, a more personal plea: if we could remove the tax on Yorkshire real ales it would be the icing on the cake.

So there you have it – my budget on behalf of the travel industry. I commend it to the house!

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