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Travel industry calls for more government support

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Save Future Travel Coalition has called for more financial support for the sector including extending furlough and self-employed income support for six months after international travel re-starts.

The coalition has written to the chancellor, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and the chair of the House of Commons transport committee, Huw Merriman MP, about the restart of international travel and the need to support the travel industry throughout the recovery.

The coalition is made up of 15 travel associations and trade groups. The latest coordinated activity follows the publication of the Global Travel Taskforce report.

The group is calling on the government to retain existing furlough and self-employed income support for businesses operating in international travel, without tapering, for a minimum of six-months from 17 May.

The furlough scheme is currently due to finish at the end of September. Extending it for six months from 17 May would mean the scheme running until at least mid-November.

The coalition is also urging the government to extend full business rates relief for travel companies operating from rateable premises for a minimum of six-months from 17 May.

The travel framework set out by transport secretary Grant Shapps has 17 May as the earliest date which international travel could re-start.

The coalition also wants to see a new sector-specific ‘recovery grants’ regime for travel agents, tour operators and travel management companies that are reliant on international travel for their revenues.

It also pointed out that HMRC should look to reduce the cost of testing for members of the public by exempting PCR tests from VAT.

The group also group stressed the need for urgent clarity on the approach to FCDO travel advice around the restart of international travel and how it will work with the new country traffic light system.

Luke Petherbridge, director of public affairs at ABTA, said: “It is really important we continue to put forward a consistent argument and approach to the UK government, and devolved nations, on the issues facing the sector and share our expert insight around the restart of international travel.

“There is still a number of unknowns around the government’s plans for the restart and a lot of detail missing, by engaging with ministers, departments, and a broader group of MPs, we can make sure that the voice of the organised travel sector is heard, and we are providing expert insight and constructive solutions about the restart of international travel.”

The Save Future Travel Coalition previously appealed for more support for the travel industry ahead of the Budget in March.

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