Trade bodies from across the aviation and travel industries have announced plans for a travel industry day of action on June 23 to put pressure on the UK government to support a safe return to international travel in time for the peak summer period.
The #traveldayofaction is being led by Abta, Airlines UK, the Airport Operators Association, BAR UK, UKinbound, the Business Travel Association, Advantage Travel Partnership, The Travel Network Group, and the other 11 members of the Save Future Travel Coalition. Other industry organisations have been invited to join.
The bodies are calling on all corners of the travel industry – every airline, airport, tour operator, travel agent, supplier and partner – to get involved and support the activities of the day.
Demands of government include:
- Allowing international travel to return safely and in a risk managed way by properly implementing the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan.
- Bringing forward a package of tailored financial support to recognise that the unlocking of international travel, and hence businesses’ ability to trade and generate income, will be much slower than first anticipated, and more gradual than for businesses in the domestic economy.
The day of action will involve an organised lobby at the Houses of Parliament – which would see MPs meet with a large number of their constituents at Westminster on a single day.
Plans are also being developed for events across other parts of the UK, targeted at the devolved administrations. The event is intended to generate and attract national media attention and will also seek to gain traction on social media.
The day of action will take place on June 23, just ahead of when the government is expected to discuss and decide on the next steps for international travel.
On June 28, government will review both the traffic light list and the requirements, measures and systems in place for international travel.
Activities on June 23 will start from 12.30pm, allowing industry attendees time to travel down for the day.
The day will be the culmination of “intense lobbying and political engagement” pledged over the next few weeks.
Activity ahead of the day will include Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer’s appearance at the Treasury Select Committee from 3.30-5.30pm on Monday June 7, and the parliamentary debate on Thursday June 10, which will look at support for the aviation, travel and tourism industries.
More information on the day and how to get involved will be published here.
Abta’s Tanzer said: “These next weeks will be critical for the travel industry. We have been working together since the start of the pandemic to make the sector’s case on what the industry needs to get through this crisis and return safely to international travel.
“We’re in a situation where the government is curtailing overseas travel but isn’t providing tailored support for the travel industry. The longer this goes on the more jobs, livelihoods and businesses are at risk.”
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “The UK is falling behind other countries, including many of our competitors in Europe, when it comes to restarting our aviation and travel sectors. With the success of the vaccine rollout, it is vital the government takes steps to capitalise on the progress that has been made, otherwise we face doing severe long-term damage to the economy and the competitiveness of our world-leading aviation sector.
“Quite clearly the time has come for every corner of our industry – from aviation to inbound and outbound tourism and business travel – to come together if we are to have any hope of getting international travel properly up and running in time for the main summer weeks. Failure to do so would be truly catastrophic with so many tens of thousands of jobs hanging in the balance.”
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of travel agent consortium Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “We all need to be pulling together towards this one single date, so it has the greatest media and political impact.
Speak with one voice
“It is imperative the industry speaks with one clear voice to demand action from the government urgently on the safe recovery of travel and tourism.
“Not only are we trailing behind other countries on opening up travel, we are trailing behind every other British industry which has had the benefit of conforming to the domestic road map outlined by the government. This is tantamount to woeful neglect and we as industry intend to redress the balance and get government to back us as we strive to save jobs and businesses.”
Gary Lewis, chief executive of agency consortium The Travel Network Group, said: “We urge our members and the wider outbound travel industry to get behind the day of action on June 23.
“The march on Westminster is in response to the shocking, illogical announcement from the government which effectively cancelled travel for the foreseeable future and went against the expectations set in the Global Travel Taskforce report.
“Until people can travel freely, and the travel industry is able to get back on its feet, we need the government to provide direct financial sector-specific support which we have been calling for since summer 2020.”
Lewis pointed out the travel industry employs more than 221,000 people and contributes £37.1 billion to the economy but said: “Our calls for support and clarity have not been met. We hope the government takes notice of the day of action and acts on the industry’s demands before further damage is done.”
John Bevan, divisional senior vice president for dnata Travel Group, said: “It is mystifying to us that targeted support for our industry has not been forthcoming, even as our ability to operate is being prevented by confused policymaking and muddled thinking.
“Between us, we support livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of people, deliver a valuable service to millions, and contribute billions to the UK economy.
“Dnata Travel Group’s UK brands, including Gold Medal, Travel Republic and Travelbag, are proud to join our industry peers in supporting this day of action. It’s high time we came together and spoke with one voice to make the needs of the travel industry heard at this parlous time in our history.”
Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound said inbound tourism is the UK’s third largest service export industry, worth £28.4 billion to the UK economy and employing nearly half a million people.
But he said: “Our sector is struggling to survive and is in desperate need of support. We’re calling on our members and the wider tourism community to get involved in this day of action.
“Every conversation and engagement with your local MP on this day will have an impact and will help put pressure on the UK Government to take action to support our industry.”
Vaccination lead ‘abandoned’
Abby Penston, chief executive of business travel consortium Focus Travel Partnership, said: “While the UK has been leading the way in terms of the vaccination rollout, the government has now abandoned this lead; turned its back on its own guidance and thrown the travel industry under a bus.
“We were told by the government that we were working towards sustainable recovery. This isn’t it. We know that the extensive measures that the travel industry has been working on means that we can return to safe, responsible business travel.
“It’s about time that the UK really understood what is being lost as a result of the government’s shameful disregard to people’s livelihoods. June 23 is an important date that we can all get behind.”
The coalition is encouraging businesses across all four nations to support the day of action – either by attending the Westminster event or getting involved in planned activities closer to home.
The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) and The Association of Northern Ireland Travel Agents (ANITA) are among the organisations involved, with the intention to also hold events that are targeted at devolved administrations. More information on logistics will be forthcoming in the days ahead.