<p>Two rival Edinburgh travel agencies closed their doors in January due to the pandemic </p>

Two rival Edinburgh travel agencies closed their doors in January due to the pandemic

‘30 days left to save travel firms’ travel council warns UK government

The end of the furlough scheme is set to hit travel businesses hard

Lucy Thackray
Thursday 02 September 2021 10:54

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned the government that, if travel fails to open up significantly in the next 30 days, many UK firms risk job losses or closure.

In its warning, the WTTC said that the government has “just 30 days left to save travel businesses which are struggling to survive”.

The one-month window marks the countdown to the end of the furlough scheme, which has propped up businesses while travel has remained heavily restricted by government rules.

The next Global Travel Taskforce review is also slated for 1 October, when key travel rules and guidelines around hotel quarantine, self-isolation and testing could be reviewed and overhauled.

However, the last GTT review, which was scheduled for July, did not appear to lead to any major announcements or changes.

Should travel remain curtained over the final quarter of 2021, the council estimates that £59.4bn could be lost from the UK’s economy.

“Vast economic wealth and even more jobs in travel and tourism could be lost in 30 days’ time, if significant travel doesn’t resume by the same time the furlough scheme ends,” said Julia Simpson, the WTTC’s president and chief executive.

“Companies are facing a desperate future unless the government supports the sector by introducing sensible controls that build traveller confidence while keeping the UK safe.”

She outlined her ideal next steps for travel guidelines, saying: “We should allow all fully jabbed citizens and visitors to enter the UK with a negative Covid test. There should be no need for quarantine and excessive, expensive testing requirements.

“2021 is in danger of being no better than the last for the travel and tourism sector, despite the incredibly successful vaccine rollout.

“The next 30 days are critical to get travel back on track. That means abandoning the traffic lights system and reducing the current testing regime so that it is simpler and cheaper.”

In June, travel trade organisation ABTA found that 200,000 travel industry workers had either lost their jobs, or were at risk of losing them, due to the pandemic.

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