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Association calls for rates relief across entire travel sector

The Business Travel Association (BTA) has urged the government to take a fair and equitable approach to the business rates holiday recently announced by the chancellor of the exchequer to mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19. 

Research by the BTA has confirmed that the business rates holiday, which was unveiled for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, is being given to (leisure) travel agents but not to travel management companies (TMC).

The BTA believes that this disparity is incorrectly based on the physical location of travel agents. Unlike TMCs, they often have a high street presence and so are classified as retail outlets, but fulfil a similar function to a TMC, just for leisure rather than business travel.

Clive Wratten, CEO of the BTA, said: “It is frustrating that one branch of the travel sector is granted business rates relief based on a high street presence, whilst another is not. The global response to COVID-19 has shut down the travel sector worldwide and TMCs face many of the same pressures as travel agents and tour operators.”

A poll by the BTA of its members has indicated that a business rate holiday of one year would, on average, enable each TMC to preserve sufficient additional cash to provide an extra two month’s liquidity.

Wratten has written to the financial secretary to the Treasury, the Rt. Hon. Jesse Norman MP, on behalf of its members, requesting that the business rate holiday is given to both TMCs and travel agents.

He adds: “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, and the UK business travel industry is responsible for over 30 million transactions generating £10bn revenue every year.”