Furious tourism bosses blast Chancellor for 'leaving them in the cold'

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What about travel, Rishi? Furious tourism bosses blast Chancellor for ‘leaving them in the cold’ after industry was excluded from new £1billion Covid support package

The Chancellor has announced grants of up to £6,000 per premises for hospitality and leisure firms being crippled by a wave of cancellations following the emergence of the Omicron strain. 

The taxpayer will also cover the cost of statutory sick pay for Covid-related absences for companies with fewer than 250 employees. 

However, there was nothing of note for tourism firms, despite surging cancellations for overseas trips amid tougher testing and self-isolation rules for people arriving in the UK.

Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, said: ‘It is devastating to see that once again business travel and its supply chain have been left out of Government financial support.

Boris Johnson (pictured in Downing Street today) has stepped back from imposing punitive lockdown curbs that would have ruined Christmas

‘It’s imperative that the arts, hospitality and leisure are given help through the latest wave of the pandemic. However, a vital part of the UK economy and the driver behind global Britain is being left in the cold.

‘We urgently need the Treasury to correct this oversight and support our industry into 2022. This is the only way for there to be a safe return to international travel when conditions allow.’

Luke Petherbridge, director of public affairs for travel trade organisation Abta, claimed Mr Sunak’s announcement ‘ignores the direct impact of Government policy decisions on businesses reliant on international travel’.

Empty tables and chairs at a restaurant in London's West End last night as the hospitality sector faces another crisis

He said: ‘Travel agents, tour operators and travel management companies will rightly be asking why they haven’t been given the same treatment as other businesses that are suffering at this time.

‘Average annual revenue across the travel industry is down by nearly 80% on pre-crisis levels even before Omicron emerged, and the reintroduction of enhanced testing – both pre and post-arrival – have added significant costs and notably dampened consumer demand.

‘As the sector approaches what should be the peak sales period for booking holidays for summer 2022, businesses are instead facing another round of heart-breaking and demoralising cancellations, with no indication that the Government is listening to the challenges they are facing.’

Mr Petherbridge urged the Government to lift ‘unnecessary travel restrictions’ immediately, provide grants to the travel sector which are similar to those announced for hospitality, and consider the need for the furlough scheme to be reintroduced.

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