Kirkcaldy MSP calls for travel industry bail out amid ongoing Covid restrictions
A Kirkcaldy MSP has called on the UK Government to provide financial assistance to the retail travel agency sector, in light of the ongoing travel uncertainties resulting from the Covid 19 pandemic.
The call from David Torrance comes as travel restrictions enter their 17th month since introduction in March 2020, with no sign yet of the pandemic situation stabilising to a point where foreign travel can be booked with confidence.
The retail travel sector has had some benefit from the UK Government’s furlough scheme, and from Scottish Government support schemes such as the £5.3m Travel Agents Support Fund.
Mr Torrance said: “The UK Government’s failure to protect us from the Delta variant by shutting down travel to and from India in the spring when it had the chance, has cost us dear in terms of being able to travel freely this summer to traditional package holiday destinations.
“The restrictions now in place, and consumer uncertainty about how they may change on a week-to-week basis, have had a devastating impact on our traditional high street travel agencies.
“My discussions with agencies in the Kirkcaldy area have revealed that whilst most report a healthy number of bookings for next year, the majority have serious doubts regarding their ability to continue operating until then. I remain in contact with the Scottish Government to discuss the possibility of further assistance to help travel agents through this difficult period and to protect local jobs but the UK Government must accept responsibility for allowing this situation to arise.
“I call on Prime Minister Johnson to set up a financial assistance fund to support retail travel agents. It must be done now.”