The UK’s latest prime minister Rishi Sunak has been urged by travel organisations to provide “stability, clarity and confidence” to businesses in the sector after weeks of economic turmoil.
Former chancellor Sunak is taking over as prime minister from Liz Truss, who is stepping down after a disastrous six-week spell in charge of the country. Sunak had previously lost out to Truss in this summer’s Conservative leadership campaign to replace Boris Johnson.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel association ABTA, called on Sunak to set the UK on a “path to economic recovery” and provide support to the sector.
“We also need the government to understand the delicate position the travel industry is in and the support needed,” added Tanzer. “We’ve had a decent summer of trading, but that is on the back of two years of no travel during the pandemic.
“To harness this growth opportunity, the government needs to put a framework in place which supports businesses through their continued recovery from the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, and next week’s fiscal statement offers the opportunity to do that.”
ABTA is calling for the UK government to freeze current Air Passenger Duty (APD) rates until the next general election, extend business rates support beyond April 2023 and encourage lenders to take a “sympathetic approach to businesses that are struggling to repay Covid debts over the coming months”.
Simon Richards, treasurer of beam, formerly known as HBAA (Hotel Booking Agents Association), said it wanted Sunak to continue the energy price cap for businesses beyond next April as a key way to support its members.
“Costs have already risen so much that, with bounceback loans to be repaid as well, some agencies and venues cannot afford to open and may close forever. There is a limit to how much they can increase prices without losing business and remain viable,” urged Richards.
“We would also like the prime minister to recognise the massive contribution that the events industry makes to the economy by appointing a minister within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to be responsible for the events sector and for our industry to be a priority within that role.”