Comment: Budget leaves industry wanting more

Budget announcements are often cause for mixed feelings, and this week’s much-anticipated statement was no exception.

Many voiced frustration at the ongoing lack of specific support for a sector which cannot simply reopen and regenerate overnight – despite similar measures being forthcoming for industries including the arts, hospitality and sport.

But there was relief over the extension of furlough to the end of September, albeit with caveats around the ability of travel firms to fully utilise the scheme while getting their businesses back up and running.

Retail agents also welcomed the extension of business rates relief and were broadly positive about access to new restart grants.

But those measures too fell short of providing the breadth of support needed by the many travel firms without a high street presence – and also assume the reopening of non-essential retail equates to an instant return to income for those that do.

After shifting focus from the prime minister’s roadmap announcement to the chancellor’s Budget, the industry’s eyes will now be firmly on the transport secretary’s reconvened Global Travel Taskforce. As was the case with the original taskforce, there has been a firm commitment to consult with the industry on the resumption of international travel, and it was positive to see representatives of a range of associations and brands involved in the first meeting this week.

It is essential that this first step is a precursor to a truly wide-ranging consultation that includes all sectors and listens to the SMEs that are the bedrock of the industry.

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