EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: Travel is able to take-off once more in a risk-managed way
Last week I joined hundreds of representatives from the travel industry outside Parliament who spoke of the continued lack of respect this Government has shown them.
From the outset of the Pandemic, this industry has been forgotten and ignored. Decisions on support and travel have been delayed, only to be constantly changed at the last minute depending on Government’s own priorities, not health priorities. This was apparent again just this week, when the Government decided that overseas business leaders of their choosing will be able to avoid quarantine when they arrive in England.
Over one year ago, the industry was promised sector-specific support, but it hasn’t materialised. In that time, nearly 200,000 jobs have been lost or are at risk and many of the household names in the travel industry have had to board up their businesses.
This week, ABTA (The Trade Association for Travel) wrote to the Chancellor and the Transport Secretary urging them to honour this promise of sector specific support, committing to extending furlough and business rates relief at current levels.
This isn’t just about people going on holiday, it is about families seeing or caring for their loved ones, it is about business and jobs- jobs in our travel agencies, aviation, and the supply chain. It is vital to our economy.
Of course, if there is a sudden Covid spike in any country then it would be negligent to allow arrivals en masse of infected people into the UK, or vice versa, but at present the current restrictions are not always proportionate or based on robust evidence. That is why, when repeatedly asked, the Transport Secretary is vague and why the Government won’t publish all of the available data they hold regarding the decision-making behind the ‘traffic light’ system.
As we approach the summer season and our NHS continues to successfully roll out the vaccine further, Government dither and delay on making any firm or consistent plans for the industry will lead to more job losses. Travel can and should return in a safe, risk-managed way, we are just stuck with a reluctant Government.