Co-owner of South Shields firm Westoe Travel joins campaigners in London protesting against handling of covid travel restrictions
A South Shields travel agent joined in with other campaigners at Westminster pressing for clarity around restrictions on overseas travel.
Graeme Brett, who runs Westoe Travel in Westoe Road with his partner Joan, has hit out at the Government in recent weeks over the ‘mixed messages’ he said it has been sending out to the travel industry.
He called for an end to the ‘uncertainty’ he argues is crippling the sector during what would normally be peak season, as well as for financial compensation.
Mr Brett met 68 politicians, including South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck on Wednesday, June 23, as part of an industry lobby delegation outside Parliament.
The businessman was part of an industry lobby group of airlines, tour operators, tourist boards, and other travel agencies.
“There’s a complete lack of clarity from the Government at the moment,” he said.
"They need to come out and say whether people can travel or not. If the answer is no, then they need to provide financial support to the travel industry - who are having to ground airplanes, lay off staff, close hotels – to see them through.
"Or, they have to say, ‘Look, we’re letting thousands of people into Wembley – so people will be able to travel’. We just need a clear answer either way.”
According to travel association body, ABTA, almost 200,0000 UK travel jobs are at risk due to the pandemic.
Mr Brett added: “A pressing factor is the fact that the furlough scheme is coming to an end in September.
"And, come September, if travel is not operational again, there’s going to be huge job losses across the industry.”
Mrs Lewell-Buck said the Government needed to provide sector-specific support to the industry and ditch its controversial ‘traffic light’ travel system.
"The Government need to stop messing around with the red, amber and green list,” she said.
“They need to reopen travel and do it in such a way that there’s good, consistent public health messaging going on and that there’s good measures in place.
"The way the Government are going on, we’re going to see more and more travel agencies getting boarded up and people losing their jobs. It’s been going on for more than a year now and they really need to get a handle on this.”