AITO and The Advantage Travel Partnership, seek regulatory help for UK’s outbound travel sector

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The Advantage Travel Partnership (ATP) and the Specialist Travel Association (AITO) are urging the Chancellor to use this week’s Autumn Statement to recognise the challenges that the current economic environment presents to the outbound travel sector, especially its SME travel agents and tour operators.

Many of these SMEs provide vital employment and economic support within their local communities. The industry was one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, because both leisure and business travel were halted. Businesses operating in this sector could not take full advantage of the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS) because dedicated staff had to continue working to process amendments and cancellations for many millions of customers. As a result, many outbound travel businesses now find themselves saddled with significant levels of debt that they had no option but to take on in order to survive.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of The Advantage Travel Partnership said: “With a new government in place we need to do everything we can to demonstrate the significant size and shape of our industry, and the role it plays in driving fiscal prosperity as opposed to a perceived narrative that it’s about money leaving the country.

“In 2019, the outbound travel sector contributed £6.9(approx. USD 8.20)bn to the UK’s tax revenue. With the industry due to grow by 15% by 2027, its contribution to the fiscal health of the nation can be enhanced if it is able to take advantage of the less restrictive red tape in a post Brexit environment.”

One area where significant benefits could be found by government is simply by taking advantage of the regulatory flexibility offered by Brexit. The delivery of a simplified and cohesive alternative to the complex web of regulation that currently governs the industry would not only enhance consumer protection but also impose fewer costs on operators. The capital thus released could then be invested in people and skills that are essential to the future of the industry.

Chris Rowles, chairman of The Specialist Travel Association (AITO), says: “We are not looking to the government for money, as we know that the purse strings are tight. However, a simpler, more cohesive level of regulation should exist both providing the necessary levels of consumer protection and releasing the large amount of capital currently held by regulators. The existing overlapping regulatory layers do not afford more consumer protection. They simply serve to withhold finance that could better be used to drive growth, ensuring an even larger contribution to both local and national economies.”

While the demand for international travel is increasing, it is vital that there is proper recognition of the fact that businesses are servicing higher-than-expected debt requirements at a time when interest rates are rising. Travel restrictions still exist in some parts of the world, and the outbound travel sector will take much longer to recover from the pandemic hangover in comparison to other industries such as aviation and hospitality, as well as more than often at the behest of foreign governments and the wider travel ecosystem.

In this fragile climate, the role of travel agents and tour operators – and the added value that they offer to consumers – has never been so important. Both ATP and AITO are supporting their members and partners in working for their joint futures, putting in place the people, skills and infrastructure that they need.

Now is the time for the government to play its part, unleashing the huge potential of the outbound travel industry for the benefit of the economy, for business and its skilled workforce.

 

 

 

 

The post AITO and The Advantage Travel Partnership, seek regulatory help for UK’s outbound travel sector appeared first on Travel Daily.