A Scottish travel industry leader has called for an emergency package from Scottish Government to jobs in a sector that employs 30,000.
Barrhead Travel president Jacqueline Dobson today called for the Scottish Government to provide emergency support for the industry after it was hit by an « October holiday body blow. »
Dobson said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s call not to book overseas holidays during the half-term October break unless absolutely essential had caused “chaos and confusion” among travellers.
She said the statement contradicted the Scottish Government and Foreign Office’s own published rules on international travel, which today still list a number of popular holiday destinations as being open to holidaymakers and do not restrict travel in October.
She said: “This conflicting message is another body blow to an industry on which 30,000 Scots depend on for their livelihoods.
“There has been a clear demand for last minute holidays in September and October but this statement has caused real confusion and concern amongst Scottish holidaymakers.
“We have been inundated with calls from customers asking for advice on what they should do – whether to follow the First Minister’s guidance or the Scottish Government and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s published rules.
“As an ABTA member, we are bound by and recognise Foreign Office guidelines – these are the guidelines that the UK travel industry follow.
“So, while our staff are doing our best to support our customers, this conflict means that they will not necessarily get their money back from tour operators if they cancel if there is no specific advisory against travel.
“We have worked hard to ensure the health and safety of all our employees and customers and are following the Government guidelines on Covid-19.
“We fully support their public health message, however, this has to be balanced by proactive measures to support our industry and the people who work in it.
Dobson said that Scotland’s travel sector had already suffered long-term damage with a dramatic reduction in capacity. Emirates flights to Dubai have been halved, TUI have pulled out of Aberdeen until next year and there is a risk of permanently losing key US routes to New York and Orlando. Key connecting services via London and Amsterdam have also been reduced, making long-haul destinations less accessible.
She added: “We are asking the First Minister, not just on behalf of Barrhead Travel but on behalf of the whole sector, to engage with us today to protect the long-term sustainability of an industry that is a key driver of the Scottish economy.
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