finance

Scottish Government has 'little understanding of how the travel business works'



The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) has stated that there is “very little understanding on how the travel business works” among Scotland’s politicians.

In it’s pre-election manifesto, the industry body said that instead of crossing over so many government portfolios, outbound travel ought to be added to a travel and tourism portfolio which would cover inbound and outbound travel, aviation and airports.

The SPAA set out 11 key pillars which its members consider fundamental to saving the Scottish travel industry. These include:

  • An absolute commitment to engage on a four nations’ approach to travel.
  • Urgent moves to explore acceptable forms of testing other than just PCR and the prioritisation of a means to lower the cost of testing.
  • Acknowledgement and acceptance of the contribution that travel makes to the Scottish economy.
  • Recognition that a lack of inbound tourism will have a serious impact on the country’s economy and the importance of travel for Scottish businesses to enable their recovery.
  • The human rights of Scots to visit family overseas and the mental health issues raised by the denial of this right.
  • The suspension of Air Passenger Duty and taxes directly or indirectly levied in the travel industry to allow for recovery.
  • The urgent need for long term support for travel agencies to rebuild and continue to play a role in the high streets of Scottish communities including extension of the Travel Agency fund.

SPAA president Joanne Dooey said: “It is apparent that there is very little understanding at Scottish Government level of how the travel business works as it crosses so many different portfolios.

“Scottish travel cannot recover without a joined-up and cohesive approach within its own ecosystem and the newly elected Scottish Government must open its ears and ears to listen to businesses of all shapes and sizes across the industry.

“We need a Scottish Government which will liaise with the travel sector and travel agencies to ensure that there is a robust framework in place for information sharing.

“We need a Scottish Government which delivers on the human right to family life for those who have note been able to travel to see family for over a year,” she added.

The SPAA is represented on the Scottish Aviation Working Group and recently welcomed the initial outline of the Global Task Force plans.

It has been lobbying throughout he pandemic for a four nations’ approach to the return of international travel, affordable and acceptable testing, a clear traffic lights’ system and a vaccine passport programme.

Dooey also demanded progress on the vaccine certificate proposals.

“Health certification to prove vaccinations status for outbound international travel is essential but in addition there needs, initially, to be an accepted form of a paper health certificate which would then result in a digital pass such as IATA’s travel pass, or a similar system, which will need to be globally accepted. International collaboration and agreement of these schemes is imperative.”

The SPAA, founded in 1921, is the world’s oldest organisation representing travel agents.

It currently has 120 member companies, all their associated agencies across Scotland including many home workers, and 92 associate members across the travel and transport industry.

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