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ABTA has written to officials at the department for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) to protest at levels of grant support being made available to the retail travel industry in England.

The body argues the cash is at odds with those provided to other business sectors. 

Restart Grants, recently announced by the chancellor, are to be allocated to businesses based on the category they are deemed to fall into, such as non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure and personal care.

Retail travel agents fall into the first category, meaning that they are eligible for grants up to £6,000 depending on their rateable values. 

However, as ABTA points out to BEIS, while travel agents can open from Monday, they will not receive any new income for many weeks at least. 


Not only is it currently illegal to travel overseas, government guidance issued earlier this week stated that customers should not book overseas holidays for the time being.

Other businesses are eligible to receive grants of up to £18,000, despite being able to welcome customers and generate new income from Monday.

ABTA has made clear to the department that this is a growing source of frustration and anger among its members and the wider travel industry, and has asked for an explanation of the rationale behind the decision. 

Luke Petherbridge, ABTA director of public affairs, said: “It seems illogical that financial support is being funnelled towards businesses that will not only be open from next week but, in the case of hairdressers for example, are likely to be in very high demand from the off, while travel businesses that will continue to have significant constraints on their trade are offered lower levels of support.

“Unlike in Scotland or Northern Ireland, travel businesses in England have not received any sector-specific support in recognition of the unique circumstances our sector is in.

“Meanwhile, the level of business support offered by the Welsh government has been based on revenue-loss, which has meant better comparative outcomes for many businesses.

“ABTA is continuing to strongly press for tailored assistance for all businesses in the travel industry in England, not least in the light of further ‘don’t book a holiday’ messages from government this week.

“In addition, we are in contact with the devolved administrations around the need to keep financial support under review, and the importance of a four-nations approach to restart.”