Advantage Travel Partnership CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said has outlined plans for the next phase of the UK Outbound Travel Forum as she warns the ‘pandemic is far from over’.
At the end of last year, Ms Lo Bue-Said asked the UK outbound travel industry to fund ‘a war chest’ to lobby the Government for more financial support.
At the time, she said: “By no means am I an expert in this field, and I don’t know what the outcome will look like, but I know we have to try.”
Since then, she says several travel companies have come forward to support the cause and she is organising a meeting at Westminster next month.
In addition, well-known PR and communications expert Alexis Coles Barrasso has been taken on as a consultant to support Advantage in its Government-led strategy for the Outbound Travel Forum.
Ms Coles Barrasso is former Director of PR and Communications at The Travel Network Group and, before that, was Group Director, PR and Communications for The Thomas Cook Group.
Ms Lo Bue-Said said: “Our lack of profile specifically as an outbound sector with UK Government over the last two years of the pandemic has showed us that we need to work considerably harder in making our sector known and understood with MPs and Government officials, in order to influence decision making in the future.
“As an industry we have struggled at getting our collective voice heard during the pandemic and convey the significant contribution outbound travel contributes as an economic and social sector in its own right and how the UK outbound sector underpins airlines, airports and getting travellers on planes, through airports and across borders.
“I believe our need in this area is greater now than ever before to ensure we never find ourselves in a position of weakness. The pandemic is far from over for our sector and continues to be one of the first to feel the impact of border closures.
“Travel businesses remain fragile, in debt and under significant pressure as restrictions across the world in some form continue.
“Improving the understanding of the sector and raising the industry’s profile across UK Government is crucial, both to the issues we are facing today and going forward.
“Building long-term strategic relationships in Government is vital in providing the access required to effectively engage on all kinds of legislative and regularity issues moving forward.
“Not having a clear holistic framework for this work puts the industry at a complete disadvantage, especially when you consider what sectors such as hospitality have achieved during the pandemic, who have managed to secure a significant level of Government support through their lobbying.”
Ms Lo Bue-Said added the group has been actively seeking cross- industry support for the forum through speaking to Advantage members, trade associations, public affairs experts and other stakeholders and said ‘a significant number of organisations have now added their names as interested parties’.
“There is a considerable appetite for this activity to happen and we would welcome support and input from all areas of the industry. We are now in the process of setting up a meeting at Westminster with a select group of interested parties to establish and agree the next steps,” she said.
Anyone interested in supporting and assisting with funding this initiative can contact [email protected]