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UKinbound asks chancellor for urgent measures for the industry

UKinbound has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for an urgent Government intervention to protect the industry from effects of COVID-19.

Urgent measures include guidance on how businesses can apply for business interruption loans, an extended rate relief to medium and large businesses and corporation tax, VAT alongside PAYE should be deferred for a minimum of 12 months.

Other guidance includes employees in the tourism and hospitality industry who have been temporarily laid off, forced to take unpaid leave or put on reduced salaries should be compensated. Suspend the requirement for tour operators to refund customers who cannot travel and instead issue credit notes valid for 12 months, as cancellations can affect the entire supply chain.

Joss Croft, CEO of UKinbound said: “These are desperate and unprecedented times and the only way of ensuring the survival of our vital industry, that employs one in 12 people across all parts of the UK, now is with Government support.

“The UK’s tourism and hospitality industry simply has no revenue stream or working capital with which to sustain itself, and so we hope that the chancellor’s announcement today about further financial support for the economy will include our sector. Additionally, any support packages must be rolled out and available immediately with absolutely clear guidance; tourism businesses have days, not weeks, in which to survive.”

Jane Pendlebury, CEO of HOSPA, also commented: “We’re in unprecedented territory with coronavirus and we appreciate that the Government is doing its best to keep abreast of an ever-changing situation. However, the latest advice is ambiguous, leaving many hospitality businesses in limbo.

“Do we re-stock and re-order in anticipation of some trade? With the risk that this expense then goes to waste? Or do we simply take the hit and close completely? Other factors are staff related. There’s a duty of care both emotionally and financially. Staying open possibly allows us to pay staff for longer, but also exposes them to risk. What’s the right balance to strike?”

She added “While a full lockdown is an enforced closure, something that’s more likely to be covered by insurance, that’s by no means certain given the exceptional, unforeseen circumstances. At present though, we’re not at the point where forced closures are currently deemed necessary.”

Pendlebury stated that a full lockdown will “no doubt come in the next few days, or next few weeks” when the Government deems the NHS is at maximum capacity. This is when “it is essential we fully comply” and “follow Government guidelines for as long as possible, however, vague or frustrating they may seem.”

Clive Wratten, CEO of BTA (Business Travel Association) has also called on the Government to undertake measures such as low cost and easily obtained lines of credit to be made available for businesses for a minimum of one year, or until the economic recovery can begin, a three-month business rates holiday with scope to extend for a further three months if required and a three-month national insurance and pension contribution payment holiday with scope to extend if required.

Wratten, CEO of the BTA, stated: “Many travel management companies have suffered huge losses in revenue and are now facing a cash flow crisis. These are strong businesses that are vital enablers for the UK economy, but the sad reality is that many could fail before a demand for business travel resumes.”

He added that once this crisis ends, the business travel industry will play a vital role in the UK’s economic recovery, “business travellers are the people who forge the deals and build the relationships which make global trade possible.”

He advises that for our industry to get to this point, we must “weather the current storm, and we call on the Government to help save our industry from collapse.”