UK Ski Companies Urge Boris Johnson to Help Travel Industry
15th February 2021
Last modified on February 17th, 2021
As new quarantine measures come into force today the Save Future Travel Coalition says the Prime Minister needs to use next week’s lockdown update to provide a route forward for the travel industry. This week should have been one of the busiest weeks for winter holidays.
Many travel agents and tour operators haven’t been able to operate or generate income since the start of the pandemic last March.
Half term represents around 15% of ABTA ski members’ total bookings for the winter season.
France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy are usually among the most popular destinations along with North America.
For companies providing ski and snow trips to schools, the same period would usually bring 40% of their annual revenues.
This year that revenue is lost.
The ski industry is among those which are effectively closed, having been one of the first sectors affected by Coronavirus when major travel restrictions were introduced in March 2020.
This season has already been severely impacted by the pandemic, and opportunities for snow sports holidays do not currently exist.
“The UK may be in its third lockdown but, for SBiT members, this is still their first lockdown which started 11 months ago,” said the director of Seasonal Businesses in Travel, SBiT, Charles Owen.
“In March 2020 we completed an emergency repatriation of 40,000 guests and staff back to the UK, and then set about refunding or rebooking holidays for hundreds of thousands more guests.
“With this winter season all but cancelled, virtually no new bookings and the outlook uncertain this is an industry on its knees financially.
“There is huge demand for ski holidays in the 2021-22 ski season but our members need financial support from the Chancellor now, to continue trading and delivering the future holidays that our guests love.”
The Save Future Travel Coalition is made up of 12 leading travel trade organisations.
It says it is vital that the Government works with industry to develop a roadmap to reopen travel.
While the rollout of the vaccine is progressing well, the Coalition is clear the industry simply cannot afford to wait until everyone in the UK is vaccinated before people start to travel again – otherwise insolvencies and redundancies will be inevitable.
The industry argues that a risk-based approach to travel, including a coordinated approach to vaccine certificates and use of passenger testing will be critical in opening up the overseas travel market.
The Save Future Travel Campaign has asked the Government to:
- Expand the grant schemes available to support all travel businesses.
- Extend other financial support mechanisms, such as furlough, VAT deferrals, business rates relief, into the next financial year. It is particularly important that the furlough regime be extended in recognition that travel will likely restart gradually. To save jobs, salary support must be kept in place until recovery in the sector is gathering pace.
- Enable travel businesses to trade their way out of the crisis in the coming months. The industry is committed to working with Government to put in a place a roadmap to recovery, which ensure stability for travellers and travel companies and, crucially, which uses existing mitigation measures to ensure travel can resume in a risk-controlled manner.