Target warns ‘redundancies in a fortnight’ without action

Travel agent action group Target has warned that business owners will be forced to begin making redundancies in two weeks if sector support is not forthcoming.

The group’s co-founders said trade bodies and industry leaders had “two weeks to save travel” after receiving feedback from agency owners.

Target said pressure was mounting on agents due to growing number of cancellations and amendments, the end and winding down of financial support schemes, imminent requirements to pay membership fees and a requirement to start paying back government loans.

It said some Target members were also having to deal with another round of cancellations and changes to bookings for domestic tours and cruises following a delay to lockdown easing which meant capacity limits would remain in place for longer.

Co-founder Graeme Brett said: “The clock is ticking and the trade leaders have just two weeks to save our industry from carnage. We have been told for 15 months to be patient and that lobbying and  discussions have been taking place behind the scenes.

“At the moment we have not seen any results from that lobbying to support the travel industry. Without immediate support we will see many more excellent businesses close and thousands of jobs lost.”

Fellow co-founder Jill Waite added: “Target members are bewildered at the lack of support we have received when they see the support that the hospitality industry has got.

“[Trade body] UKHospitality seem much more focused and effective in representing their members as a single body, than the numerous trade bodies that represent the travel industry.  We need action now to save the travel industry.”

Speaking at an event last week, Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said said criticism of the industry’s lobbying of government is understandable but misplaced.

Lo Bue-Said acknowledged “industry leaders have a responsibility to lobby” but said: “It’s very easy to be critical when you’re not round the table.

“Lots of parts of the industry would not come around the table.”

Business Travel Association (BTA) chief executive Clive Wratten added: “There has been criticism of the industry associations’ engagement with government, but the government is not ignoring the industry because it doesn’t understand it.

“It is ignoring the industry because [international travel] is not top of its list of priorities.”

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