Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has promised to speak up for the travel industry in his region and ensure it gets support.
Mr Burnham, who was dubbed ‘the King of the North’ after he stood up for the Greater Manchester area earlier this year against central government plans to impose wider restrictions on the area without sufficient financial support, met with ABTA representatives this week.
ABTA Director of Public Affairs Luke Petherbridge and Macclesfield-based Henbury Travel Managing Director Richard Slater, who is ABTA North West Chairman, explained to Mr Burnham the difficulty travel businesses are facing both within the Greater Manchester area and nationally.
ABTA has over 100 member businesses in the Greater Manchester area.
Mr Burnham said: “Travel businesses across Greater Manchester and the UK have suffered significant difficulties for almost 18 months now, and it’s important that Government acknowledges these ongoing struggles.
“I will continue to speak up for the sector and the people who work in it to ensure they receive the attention and the support they need.
“I welcomed the chance to talk with ABTA and to hear their views. As we move into the summer period the need for additional financial support for the travel sector is becoming ever clearer.
“While some travel restrictions have been lifted, it is clear that the sector cannot yet open up fully, leaving many businesses and workers without any sense of certainty about the weeks and months to come.
Mr Slater said: “International travel and tourism is hugely important for the Greater Manchester area and the Government needs to ensure that a risk-based approach is followed to enable people to travel again safely.
“Travel businesses will play a vital role in Manchester’s economic recovery, and were not only viable but thriving ahead of the pandemic. They deserve to be supported and mustn’t be abandoned as the domestic unlocking progresses.”
Luke Petherbridge added: “Although international travel is opening up for those who are fully vaccinated, many restrictions remain in place.
“Businesses must be supported by the Chancellor with tailored support, including an extension to furlough support – at 80% levels – and other income support schemes, continued full business rates relief, and grants that properly take account of their trading conditions.
“It is encouraging that a growing number of politicians are engaging with the industry’s plight and speaking up for travel. The industry needs to continue to engage and to press the case for Government to rethink their approach to financial support for the sector.”