Home finance Scottish Parliament travel industry protest calls for government aid to save 26,000 jobs at risk

Scottish Parliament travel industry protest calls for government aid to save 26,000 jobs at risk

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Scottish Parliament travel industry protest calls for government aid to save 26,000 jobs at risk



A protest by Scotland’s travel industry professionals took place outside the Scottish Parliament today.

Organised by the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), a crowd of travel agents, tour operators and travel associates brought its Scottish Government Save Scottish Travel campaign to the Parliament.

The crowd wore Save Scottish Travel face masks, brandished placards and hazard-tape bound passports, and waved flags of the world outside the Parliament building.

The campaign warns that Scotland’s 26,000 travel sector jobs are at risk without a clear strategy and action plan for how the Scottish and UK governments will get travel moving again.

It is estimated, by the SPAA, that there are 5000 travel agency staff in 250 High Street premises in Scotland and several hundred home workers.

SPAA members said that at least 500 jobs have already been lost since March and that, this rate of job losses will accelerate rapidly as the industry enters a second year of zero revenue.

Travel agencies are handling between 8% and 11% of the work volume of previous years – with the bulk of the current work being admin related to refunds and bookings.

Passengers through Edinburgh airport between April and September fell by 91% on the previous year and in June, Glasgow Airport said traffic was down 98% on 2019.

The SPAA is demanding tailored support for the Scottish travel sector.

As well as the £1.7bn of economic benefit to Scotland from outbound travel the country risks the £11bin of economic activity from inbound visitors which relies on a robust, connected travel sector.

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It said that Scotland’s travel industry is vital, not only for leisure and business travellers, but for exports.

Without the connectivity of excellent direct flights, Scottish businesses will be unable to export goods, it argued.

Scotland’s chief statistician report on Scottish export published in January 2020, reported that the cash value of exports excluding oil and gas was £33.8bn with food and beverages alone worth £420m.

SPAA members also want a comprehensive and robust testing system to be introduced to allow international travel to take off once again.

They called for an end to the current quarantine regulations on return from overseas travel which they consider to be confusing and that has led to increased concern about travelling.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) research in October revealed that there have been only 44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travellers, which translates to one case for every 27 million travellers.

SPAA president Joanne Dooey said: “Travel is broken. We are at serious and immediate risk of losing Scotland’s travel industry and the 26,000 jobs which the industry supports.

“It seems as if the Scottish Government has completely turned its back on the travel industry which is massively short sighted.

“Scotland is a small country which needs its connectivity to the rest of the globe. We have already lost routes and more is imminent. If this happens it will be a catastrophe for the Scottish economy.

“Travel agents are broken – and broke. The financial model of the travel industry means that agents did all the work for summer 2020 bookings in autumn 2019 but they didn’t receive a penny of the money paid by their customer as this goes immediately and directly to the tour operator.

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“Travel agents receive their fees eight weeks or so before departure date. No departures meant zero revenue.

“It’s clear that the financial model of the travel industry is neither understood nor differentiated by the Scottish Government from the domestic hospitality and tourism sector.

“As an industry, we have refunded our customers despite not always having received the refunds from the operators and airlines.

“We’ve lost all of our revenue for 2020 and we’re now facing the whole of 2021 with zero revenue. We urgently need a tailored support package of grants for the industry.”



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