SPAA seeks agent feedback on trading concerns

Barrhead predicts late bookings for May
By Lisa James
23/02/2024
Home » SPAA seeks agent feedback on trading concerns

The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) is to hold a series of round table and face-to-face sessions with members to find out how they are coping in the current economic climate.

The move was announced last night at the SPAA’s annual dinner in Glasgow by its President Jacqueline Dobson, who said ‘skyrocketing’ rates and bills are hitting high street agents, yet the support for agency businesses is ‘unacceptable’.

In her first SPAA dinner speech as President, Jacqueline said agents north of the border continue to trade at a disadvantage compared to English counterparts because those in England can benefit from rates relief, while this is not available to Scottish businesses.

Businesses in Wales are also eligible for rates relief.

Jacqueline, who is Barrhead Travel Group President, told the 350 attendees: “We are another year down the line where we are at a disadvantage compared with our English counterparts. Business might be doing well for many, but rates and bills are skyrocketing for those who choose to trade on the high street.

“When the ONS continues to report downward spending patterns for retail, travel bucks the trend with even more spending than last year. Barclays, for instance, reported spend for travel agents in December grew yet again – at a rate of 12.8% – with growth continuing in January at a rate of 8% year on year.”

She called for ‘robust’ support packages for retail travel and added the industry is frustrated at the ‘unacceptable’ lack of support for investment in people and a levy which is ‘unfit for purpose’.

“I remain very disappointed that we now no longer have any funding available for Scottish travel apprentices with the courses about to become extinct across colleges,” she said.

“To add insult to injury, the vital Flexible Workforce Development Fund has been withdrawn due to budget cuts – meaning that there is even less funding available to travel businesses.

“We are paying into the same levy pot as every other industry across the UK – yet we cannot utilise our own funding for the courses that would make a difference to our businesses.”

She said the SPAA would be working closer than ever with the Scottish Chamber of Commerce and Scottish Tourism Alliance to bring both sides of the travel industry together.

She told agents: “Our role as an association that works for its members and passengers means that it is our duty to do what it takes to raise the right issues with the right people. I’m confident that, with such a strong council behind me, we’ll be able to tackle the issues we face.

“Your feedback is the only way that we can deliver meaningful change – it is about working together. Something that I know our industry here in Scotland is great at doing.” 

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