UK travel industry calls for urgent government action

Planes on the apron at London City Airport which has been closed after the discovery of an unexploded Second World War bomb.
Planes at London City Airport. Photo: PA

UK travel group ABTA said the government is not doing enough to support the sector, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

It criticised the government for “ever-changing quarantine rules and a dwindling number of destinations for holidaymakers to visit,” and demanded tailored support, including further grants.

ABTA said it is “vital that the Global Travel Taskforce launched this month to consider a testing regime, and other measures to support recovery of the travel industry, acts decisively and urgently to help increase consumer confidence and get the industry moving again.”

The taskforce was set up by the government and is meant to report to prime minister Boris Johnson no later than early November, setting out recommendations for how the UK can support the recovery of international travel.

According to new figures released by ABTA, only 15% of people took a foreign holiday between February and July 2020 compared to 51% over the 12-month period, and 64% the previous year.

READ MORE: EU gets approval to slap $4bn worth of tariffs on US imports in Boeing dispute

More than half (53%) of the people surveyed said they took fewer overseas holidays this past year compared to the previous year, with 87% of those saying they took fewer holidays because of coronavirus. 

Government restrictions were a contributing factor to a hesitation to travel, with 93% of people concerned about potential last-minute changes to foreign office travel advice and four in five people (80%) concerned about having to quarantine when they return to the UK.

The findings are from research based on a sample of 2,000 consumers and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to July 2020.

Meanwhile, figures also revealed that more than half of people (52%) believe that the travel industry should reopen in a greener way. 

A new report by ABTA identified the sustainability challenges faced by the industry, including the need to accelerate decarbonisation and to ensure that tourism generates greater benefits for destinations and local communities.

READ MORE: Turbulent times ahead for airlines as UK travel quarantine measures kick in

Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s CEO said: “There is no doubt that people’s confidence and trust in the industry has taken a huge hit — and we must work hard to earn that trust back. Not only is that by being creative and flexible in terms of the holiday and customer experience we offer, but also by making sustainability a fundamental principle of travel.”

Earlier this week a survey was reported to show that nearly two-thirds (64%) of business leaders see domestic and international travel as “key to their future prospects.”

The research, commissioned by London City Airport, also indicated that 48% believe the government’s quarantine restrictions are the biggest barrier to business air travel.

In other news showing the toll the pandemic has taken on the travel industry, British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz has quit the top job with immediate effect, to be replaced by

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The Current State Of The Hotel Industry Isn’t ‘Sustainable’ Without Government Funding, CEO Says

Topline

The American hotel industry could be on the brink of collapse with as much as two-thirds of the nation’s hotels set to shutter in six months without financial help from the government and millions of industry workers laid off, a situation CEO of Best Western Hotels David Kong told CNBC on Monday was “not sustainable.”

Key Facts

Hotels have been the victim of a devastating one-two punch from the coronavirus pandemic, with forced closures leading to massive layoffs, and a sharp decline in bookings with travelers afraid checking in might mean contracting the virus.

“It’s really hard to say when a recovery is going to be. This situation we are in now, it’s not sustainable. It’s really bad,” Kong, who recently spoke with both the White House and Congressional Democrats about stimulus funding, told CNBC.

Kong noted the severity of the industry’s cash flow problem, saying “you can only do so much with eliminating expenses and cutting people, you still need revenue,” which is difficult with less people willing or able to travel and hotels slashing prices in a bid to fill rooms.

Without government help, over 38,000 of the nation’s almost 58,000 hotels could be forced to shut down in six months, according to a recent report by the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

If Congress doesn’t extend PPP loans or expand Main street loans, the AHLA estimates over 3,700,000 jobs related to the hotel industry could be lost, according to the report.

Key Background

The battle on Capitol Hill and in the White House for a new coronavirus stimulus package has been long, complicated, and as the days and months grow longer since the CARES Act was passed, baffling. Republicans and Democrats can’t find common ground, and it seems almost daily President Donald Trump is alternately pulling the plug on stimulus talks or advocating for a bigger and bigger package. The airline industry cadged $32 billion in payroll support in the CARES Act and is pushing hard for a reup, but other parts of the travel industry like hotels haven’t been able to get support on Capitol Hill. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she won’t support a stimulus plan that’s less than $2.2 trillion, and Republicans hit a ceiling at around $1 trillion, though their latest plan included only $300 billion in new spending. Meanwhile, Trump, who blew up stimulus talks between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin shortly after being released from Walter Reed hospital, on Friday claimed to want a greater stimulus package than both Republicans and Democrats.

Big Number

33%. That’s how many Americans say they’ve traveled for pleasure since March, according to the AHLA, and only 38% say they may travel by the end of the year.

Key Quote

“It’s time for Congress to put politics aside and prioritize American workers in the hardest-hit industries. Hotels are cornerstones of the communities they serve, building strong local economies and supporting

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