Outbound travel sector makes double plea for support in spring Budget

The government is being urged by a group of travel associations to cut business rates in next month’s spring Budget.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is also being lobbied for financial aid for business owners in the travel sector still struggling to pay back loans taken out during the pandemic.

The policy requests have been submitted to the Treasury by the Advantage Travel Partnership, specialist travel association Aito and the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (Abtot) under the umbrella of the UK Outbound Travel Group.

The group wants action on business rates at a time when the overall tax burden on course to rise to the highest level for decades.

“This will ensure that the travel businesses – which suffered more than any other sector during the pandemic – can finally recover and, once again, contribute to growing the economy in the long term,” according to the group, which represents some 700 independent travel agents and more than 570 independent and specialist tour operators.

Calling for support for servicing debt, the outbound sector partners said: “The coronavirus pandemic saw leisure and business travel halted, meaning travel agents and tour operators were no longer making money – yet were still having to operate at full capacity to serve customers cancelling and/or changing bookings.

“Travel businesses could not, therefore, take advantage of the furlough scheme. Many were forced to use their own capital reserves to keep their operations above water, along with CBILS loans. 

“We are calling for financial support for business owners in the travel sector who are still struggling to pay back loans taken out during the pandemic, so that these businesses may recover and thrive once again.”

Advantage chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said, speaking on behalf of the UK Outbound Travel Group, said: “With the impending general election looming, this spring Budget is set to be a significant moment for the incumbent government, and will potentially have far-reaching effects. 

“It is imperative that the UK’s outbound travel sector is not left behind and remains at the forefront of minds for those key decision makers in Westminster.

“The UK outbound travel sector has fought valiantly throughout the chaos of the pandemic, and its lingering effects over the past few years, but there is still much work to be done. 

“The travel industry plays a significant role in the UK’s economy, so it is vital for the government to show its support and to help these businesses to thrive and prosper, supporting UK SMEs to the maximum going forward.”

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