The latest government bailout explicitly references travel agents, following lobbying by ABTA
The government has published amended regulations that explicitly reference retail travel agents as businesses that are required to legally close in Tier 4 areas within England.
ABTA says that this confirmation from government is a welcome step in ensuring agents in England are eligible for grant support under the Localised Restrictions Support Grants (closed) regime.
The previous exclusion of travel agents from the regulations had resulted in them being denied much needed funding from local authorities under the LRSG scheme.
Following lobbying from ABTA, the devolved nations had already clarified that support for businesses in the highest levels of restrictions would be extended to retail travel agents, but the government had previously failed to provide this clarity for businesses in England.
The chancellor announced a £4.6bn relief package for retail, leisure and hospitality sectors in the UK after new lockdowns were announced in England and Scotland.
Rishi Sunak said that UK businesses in these sectors are to be given one-off grants worth up to £9,000, and expected to support 600,000 business properties across the UK.
A further £594m will be made available to councils and devolved nations to support businesses not covered by the new grants.
Sunak said: “The new strain of the virus presents us all with a huge challenge – and, while the vaccine is being rolled out, we have needed to tighten restrictions further.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve taken swift action to protect lives and livelihoods and today we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the spring.
“This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs, so workers can be ready to return when they are able to reopen.”
ABTA has been having ongoing discussions with officials in Westminster to argue that this approach must be matched in England. As part of this effort, they recently surveyed travel agent members, working with their partners in the Save Future Travel Coalition, to produce the evidence required to demonstrate that retail travel agents are dependent on in-person trade.
Luke Petherbridge, ABTA’s director of public affairs, said: “Securing grant funding for travel businesses has been a key focus of ABTA’s work in recent months. The confirmation from the UK government today builds on actions by the Devolved Administrations on this matter and should bring an end to the postcode lottery of grants experienced by agents. We are pleased to see the government has listened to our calls for clarification and acted on it today. We also believe it should mean that travel agents are eligible for the retail, hospitality and leisure businesses grants, although we are still awaiting the specific government guidance on this.
“While accessing the grant schemes will provide some help to struggling businesses, these are related to the lockdown and stay at home orders. We have not yet seen sector-specific support to take account of the unique challenges that the travel industry has faced throughout the last 10 months, including frequent changes to travel corridors, and restrictions on many destinations across the globe through FCDO Travel Advice, which have seriously affected the ability of businesses to trade. ABTA will continue to push for tailored support, including the urgency of getting financial help to those who have not been able to access existing support mechanisms, such as directors of limited companies, and the many travel businesses that do not have rateable values.”
A closer look at the Japanese city that mixes the metropolitan with the great outdoors
A major city rich in culture, first-class cuisine and multifunctional facilities that is also a stone’s throw from lush nature where a myriad of activities are possible all year long – you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere that balances the metropolitan and the great outdoors the way Sapporo does.
In Japan’s northern capital, you do not have to choose between urban excitement and a relaxing natural getaway on your holiday.
Read the guide in full here.