Demands for the travel industry to ‘speak with one voice’ fail to recognise that different sector players are “not always going to have the same views”, according to Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer.
But the industry has “been more coordinated” through the Covid-19 crisis than at any time in years, said Tanzer.
Speaking on a Travel weekly webcast, Tanzer said: “People often say the industry does not speak with one voice.
“[But] the interests and the priorities of an airline may be quite different to those of a retail agent. So it’s one sector, but it’s not always going to have the same views.”
However, he insisted: “The industry has been more coordinated through this [crisis] than it ever has been in the time I’ve been in the industry.
“We’ve created the Save Future Travel coalition which brings together 15 associations, business travel, cruise, inbound, also destination associations, all speaking with one voice, saying the same thing.
“Beyond that we’ve worked closely with Airlines UK and the Airport Operators Association (AOA) to present a view of the travel industry as a whole.
“So although people say we’re fragmented and not talking with one voice, we’ve presented a unified picture to the government on the impact of Covid and of their health policies on the sector, and on the support we need. “
Tanzer acknowledged: “You don’t always get what you want from government, and sometimes when we do get things we assume they would have happened anyway.
“Take the Budget extension of furlough, the VAT reduction and business aid. Would the government have got there under its own steam? Maybe, but maybe not.
“Our job is to be in the government’s face, constantly saying these things so that when they make decisions, they make them along the lines we want.”
He added: “I’m more bullish about how the industry works with government at the operating level. We have close working relations with the Foreign Office, Department for Transport, Home Office.
“We’re not going to win everything as an industry, but I’m pleased with the way the industry has pulled together. And as we come out of Covid and look at other challenges – carbon reduction, over-tourism, whatever comes next – we can maintain those close relationships.”
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