The Save Future Travel Coalition warns that jobs, livelihoods and businesses are at risk
As furlough costs increased from August 1 and with overseas travel subject to continuing restrictions, the travel sector is urging the Chancellor and Business Secretary to provide financial support for the industry
The Save Future Travel Coalition has said that the travel industry is facing unique circumstances and warned that jobs, livelihoods and businesses are at risk following the rise in furlough contribution costs.
With the return to international travel continuing to be unpredictable, the group says the pace we’re moving at is too slow for businesses to be able to capitalise on travel from the peak summer months.
Fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber list countries no longer have to quarantine, however other restrictions remain in place and the lifting of such rules has come late in the summer season.
The Coalition, made up of 16 leading travel associations which represent inbound and outbound travel, is urging chancellor Rishi Sunak and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to provide ongoing financial support for the UK travel industry by: providing full furlough support, plus other income support schemes; introducing a grant scheme dedicated to help international travel businesses through the coming weeks and months; and providing 100 per cent business rates relief for the financial year, following suit from other Devolved Administrations.
Chief executive of ABTA, Mark Tanzer, said: “International travel hasn’t returned to the extent that all businesses feel confident they’ll make it through the pandemic and the government has done nothing in terms of providing tailored financial support for travel agents and tour operators.
“There are still a lot of very worried companies out there, particularly the smaller, independent agents and operators, who aren’t seeing anywhere near the level of bookings they need to cover their costs – let alone return any sort of profit. At the same time, general business support from government is being reduced, adding even more financial pressure. Government needs to wake up to the crisis in the industry – without action, jobs will be lost, businesses will fold and the UK’s wider recovery will be at risk.”
The latest figures from ABTA suggest that some 200,000 jobs in the sector have been lost or are at risk of redundancy. With the school summer holidays usually being the busiest trading period for international travel – accounting for two thirds of annual income for many agencies and tour operators – the loss of this period, combined with rising furlough contribution costs, continues to put these jobs at risk.
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, said: “Business travel is not expected to return at scale until at least 2022. We urge the government to produce tailored financial support for our industry to save jobs and retain talent so that safe and secure international travel can return.
“Without further support, we face a future where there are not the people in the sector to facilitate British businesses’ return to the international trading stage.”
Danny Callaghan, CEO of Latin American Travel Association (LATA), added: “Despite some good news for travel to the EU and USA, tourism to Latin America still looks to be some way off, so LATA members still have many months of difficulty ahead. Tourism to Latin America has increased in recent years, and the businesses that sell the region are successful, growing businesses that contribute to employment and economic growth in the UK. Like the whole tourism sector, they are just about hanging on, but the coming months, with the end of furlough, repayments on CBILS loans, and the effective end of business support, will be very challenging.”
The new system will use technology for fast, accurate and secure payments
ABTA has announced a new scheme that will work faster, more accurately and securely for money transferred between travel agents and tour operators.
Set to launch in late summer 2021 to ABTA members, the new scheme will be replacing the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and will further financial support provided for ABTA members.
The new system has been developed by technology company Travel Ledger as ABTA’s new direct debit system. Faster payments will be available online through the new scheme and transactions will be consolidated by the payment scheme, giving members more control over their payments.
Members will be able to facilitate deposits and balance payments from travel agents and tour operators, as well as refunds. The scheme is set out so that, over time, members will be able to process payments more frequently than the current system, which works on a once-a-week payment cycle.
John de Vial, special adviser at ABTA, said: “The new scheme will use the latest technology to allow fast, accurate and secure consolidated payments and refunds. We’re confident that it will greatly support users’ businesses and make payments easier.”
ABTA decided to partner with Travel Ledger to create the scheme as the company is known for its understanding of technology and the travel industry. The system has been tested over the last few months through ABTA member focus groups, allowing real members to review and refine the scheme in a way that meets their requirements. To avoid disruption, the new system will be rolled out using the same process as the older platform.
Travel Ledger is an electronic invoice and remittance system, connected to UK and European banking, for easy and secure payments between travel buyers and suppliers. When the system is live, it will provide user and technical support to members, who can review their own data and identify any potential problems with transactions in advance. During 2019, ABTA members settled more than 600,000 bookings, to a value of more than £900 million.
Travel Ledger founder, Roberto De Ra, said: “Having tested the Travel Ledger system successfully with a large focus group of ABTA members, we’re delighted to offer the system across the entire ABTA membership in the coming weeks and look forward to fruitful collaboration with them.”