Abta provides agent toolkit to lobby MPs ahead of key travel debate

Abta has produced a toolkit for agents to use to help influence a key parliamentary debate on the impact of Covid-19 on the travel industry.

Agents are being urged to lobby their local MPs to attend the debate – using a template email provided by Abta – in order to increase support for the sector.

The template letter for MPs, alongside briefing materials, is on Abta’s website for agents to use ahead of the Westminster Hall Debate in the House of Commons on Monday, May 24.

The debate will be chaired by Nick Fletcher, the Conservative MP for Don Valley, and its scope has been widened to include the challenges currently facing the travel sector.

Abta’s director of public affairs Luke Petherbridge said: “Abta has already met with and briefed the chair of the debate, but it is vitally important the industry uses this opportunity to make our voices heard.

“To do that effectively we need business owners and those working in travel across the country to contact their own local MPs to ask that they attend and speak in support of the travel industry.”

Petherbridge said the recent restart grants were an example of how the industry was being left behind, with high-street agencies allowed to open but with little to sell and lower grants than other non-essential retailers such as hairdressers. Abta has already begun a legal challenge against the government on this issue.

He said: “Travel has often felt like a forgotten sector in terms of government support – especially when it comes to grants support that has not been targeted at addressing the consequences of severe government constraints on international travel.

“Meanwhile, government only amended the guidance to urge local councils to give discretionary grants to tour operators more than a year into the crisis, and many other businesses, including homeworkers have been left entirely excluded from grants support.

“A government minister is required to attend and to respond to the debate, and we need to ensure they are left in no doubt about the strength of feeling in this sector that we have not been supported adequately.”

Abta will be briefing MPs ahead of the debate, with a focus on the need for ongoing financial support which recognise the current restrictions on international travel since the lockdown restrictions ended for the domestic sector.

Abta is also calling on government to extend furlough support, retain full business rates relief and bring forward recovery grants for businesses operating in the UK travel industry. In addition, Abta wants the government to review the existing traffic lights system to facilitate travel, such as by lowering the cost of testing and revising the testing rules for green destinations.

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