Advantage CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said met with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today to spell out to him why travel agents have been unable to trade their way to recovery.
She also showed Mr Shapps, who is her local MP for Welwyn Hatfield, an infographic comparing travel to non-essential retail in an attempt to demonstrate the impact travel restrictions and Government guidance have had on the sector.
She said: “What was clear from our meeting, is that the transport secretary is cognisant of the challenges facing the industry and that he hears and understands the challenges we are having to manage.
“Grant Shapps made it clear that his end goal is to ensure international travel is reopened safely, but ultimately we are fighting a health crisis and we must remember that. We spoke of inbound travel and also the challenges with getting the US corridor agreed.
“The ongoing lobbying of MPs and continued media coverage has meant that the challenges we face as an industry have been brought to light, and as we saw yesterday with a group of 77 cross-party MPs led by Sir Henry Smith MP calling on the chancellor to extend the furlough scheme for the aviation, travel and tourism industries – this hasn’t fallen on deaf ears. A year ago we would have never have seen 77 MPs stand up in support of our sector.
“I understand that we all feel exhausted and stuck in a constant cycle of Groundhog Day, but we must keep going and creating as much noise as we can. There is strength in numbers, and the more MPs we have fighting our corner means Grant Shapps has a stronger and more compelling case to put forward to the other cabinet ministers. I am urging everyone in the industry to continue writing to their local MP’s – this was Grant Shapps’ advice too – to raise awareness of the issues we are dealing with and keep pushing.
“In the meantime, the most important thing we can do for our Advantage members is to ensure they are confident to sell, support them and their customers navigate these challenging times and to build back consumer confidence to get people safely travelling again.”