The Save Future Travel Coalition has reiterated its urgent calls for a roadmap out of Covid-19 restrictions and specific support for the sector.
The industry’s plea to the prime minister and chancellor comes as quarantine hotels are introduced on what would normally be the start of half-term – the busiest week for ski breaks.
The coalition – which includes a dozen key trade bodies such as Abta, the Advantage Travel Partnership and Cruise Lines International Association – said in a statement: “The economic output of travel agents and tour operators fell by 86% in December 2020 compared to February 2020, making it the second worst-hit business sector during the pandemic, according to new gross domestic product (GDP) figures from the Office of National Statistics.
“This is only a very slight improvement on November, and the situation has since worsened notably with international travel now illegal for most purposes.”
Monday (February 15) is the first day of half-term across most of the country, traditionally one of the busiest weeks for winter holidays.
Abta and fellow coalition member Seasonal Businesses in Travel (SBiT) estimate that about 500,000 people would normally head off to the slopes over the February half-term holiday period.
The holiday represents about 15% of Abta ski members’ total bookings for the winter season.
Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: “In a week’s time, the prime minister is due to update the nation on a route out of lockdown.
“That must include a way forward for the travel industry to ensure that people are able to take an overseas holiday this summer.
“We completely understand the need for the government to bring in temporary restrictions, like the additional measures around quarantine being brought in today, but we also need a route out of this crisis and some tailored financial support to help businesses get through what will be very difficult months ahead for the sector.
“In normal times travel contributes £80 billion to the UK economy and supports close to one million jobs. It also underpins UK aviation and trading routes, with travel agents and tour operators putting the passengers on the planes.”
Charles Owen, director of SBiT, added: “The UK may be in its third lockdown but, for SBiT members, this is still their first lockdown which started 11 months ago.
“In March 2020 we completed an emergency repatriation of 40,000 guests and staff back to the UK, and then set about refunding or rebooking holidays for hundreds of thousands more guests.
“With this winter season all but cancelled, virtually no new bookings and the outlook uncertain this is an industry on its knees financially.
“There is huge demand for ski holidays in the 2021-22 ski season but our members need financial support from the chancellor now, to continue trading and delivering the future holidays that our guests love.”
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