Abta unveils manifesto as general election approaches

Abta has unveiled a manifesto that sets out the industry’s priorities for the next government as the general election nears.

The association is calling for progress on sustainability, further support for careers in the sector and a better competitive environment for businesses.

Travel agents and other Abta members are being encouraged to engage with MPs and parliamentary candidates to highlight the industry’s value. Abta estimates the outbound sector is worth £49 billion to the UK economy annually and supports 843,000 jobs.

More: Comment: Value of UK’s travel industry needs full recognition

Pointing to the new parliamentary term, Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “The next five years will be pivotal for our industry, especially as regards sustainability and securing the future workforce for travel and tourism businesses.”

Abta is urging the government to develop a world-leading industry in the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), calling for the UK to deliver on its commitment to have five SAF plants under construction early in the next parliament.

It is also asking for quicker progress on a revenue support mechanism to incentivise private investment in SAF production, adding flying must remain affordable while the sector pursues the transition to net zero. As part of this, Abta said the government must support the development of new technology, “including electric and hydrogen flight”.

The next five years will be pivotal for our industry

On cruise, the manifesto highlights the importance of shoreside power in reaching net zero and calls for the government to incentivise the installation of infrastructure.

Noting that the travel and tourism industry is “people focused”, Abta seeks reform of the Apprenticeship Levy to allow businesses greater flexibility when using their allocations. This would allow them to access short courses and qualifications for their workforce and boost productivity, it added.

Another recommendation is for the government to approve the further education courses drawn up to replace existing Level 3 travel and tourism courses that will be defunded from September 2026.

“It is vitally important the next government works with us to get those courses approved and successfully embedded,” the manifesto states.

It also underlines the value of youth mobility agreements, calling for existing arrangements to be strengthened and deals to be struck with EU neighbours.

Abta wants the next government to seize the opportunities presented by outbound travel to further boost the UK economy and travel businesses

Under the manifesto section on helping businesses to succeed, Abta describes the business rates regime as “outdated” and recommends a new system is introduced to inject life into high streets.

In light of the EU’s upcoming e-visa schemes and the UK’s Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme, Abta says it is essential the UK government works in partnership with international counterparts to avoid travel disruption.

Abta encourages the government to be wary of future increases in APD and warns against “additional layering of other carbon charges, taxes and levies”. The trade association calls for the removal of “anomalies” in the existing regime, such as the difference in charges for children in economy cabins versus premium economy.

Tanzer said the travel industry is projected to outpace other sectors on growth, adding: “Abta wants the next government to seize the opportunities presented by outbound travel to further boost the UK economy and travel businesses.”

Abta public affairs director Luke Petherbridge said: “While we don’t yet know the exact date of the next election, it must be announced this year and it’s important we set out our stall on what we want from a future government.

“We’re making progress on some strategically important areas, such as expanding the youth mobility scheme and education reforms, but these will pass to the next government so we need to keep pushing.”

More: Comment: Value of UK’s travel industry needs full recognition

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