The boss of The Artisan Travel Company angrily warned key politicians that the travel industry is ‘a sacrificial victim’ as hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost.
Ali McLean is managing director of the Newcastle-based specialist operator, which trades as Artisan Travel, The Aurora Zone and Activities Abroad.
He wrote to aviation and maritime minister Robert Courts to highlight the plight of the outbound travel sector – but is “bitter and let down” by the response, which came via his local MP, Guy Opperman.
Replying to Opperman, he said: “As far as support from the government is concerned, the industry is sick of hearing the same platitudes.
“Unlike most businesses in the likes of say hospitality, we have not been able to shut. We have refunded all our clients who were due to travel, and we have continued to administer for those people who have chosen to postpone and the very few people who have booked for future trips.”
McLean added: “The salt is rubbed in further by Mr Courts’ proud assertion that VAT has been reduced for tourism and hospitality. There is no VAT on outbound travel! The lack of knowledge of our industry beggars belief.”
He also highlights the government handling of travel rules – such as decisions on the traffic light status for India, Portugal and France – commenting: “Sceptics would think that the government has some sort of anti-Europe policy and that these decisions are not about Covid, but the madness that is Brexit.”
He added: “Sadly, we are insignificant, Mr Courts took so little time analysing our predicament that he didn’t even have the grace to address me by the correct name. The greatest outbound travel industry in the world will be a sacrificial victim of war. Hundreds of thousands of jobs and a huge annual contribution to the Exchequer will be lost.”
McLean said the tapering of furlough payments from the government means he fears for the survival of his 20-year family business, meaning 20 staff face losing their jobs.
“Maybe my wife can get herself a nice little cleaning job and I’ll get my bike out and work for Deliveroo. After all, that is apparently a more significant contribution than a profitable, tax-paying business employing 29 people prior to Covid,” he said.
“I don’t know if Mr Courts’ correspondence was designed to anger or to illustrate the government’s complete disregard for our industry and the people working in it, but it sure had that impact.”