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A Westminster Hall debate, sponsored by Henry Smith MP, on Support for the Aviation, Travel and Tourism Industries, has been scheduled for Thursday 24 June 2021.

In terms of jobs, the Office for National Statistics reported that the number of people who reported their main job as being in travel and tourism related industries in the third quarter of 2020 (July to September) was 10.8% lower than in the same period in 2019. Consultancy firm Tourism Economics estimated that 140,000 direct tourism and travel jobs were lost across the UK in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The Government has responded with financial support for the aviation and wider travel sector. The Government says that by September 2021, the air transport sector alone will have benefited from around £7 billion of Government support, including:

  • Over £2 billion through the Bank of England’s Covid corporate financing facility
  • Around £1 billion to £1.5 billion of support through the furlough scheme.
  • Around £87 million through the Airport and Ground Operators Support Scheme
  • Business rates relief to airports

In June 2021 the UK Government stated that “over £25 billion” of financial support had been provided to hospitality tourism and leisure businesses in the UK during the pandemic, including:

  • £12 billion so far from the Coronavirus Job Retention (or furlough) Scheme;
  • £5 billion from Bounce back loans
  • £2.5 billion so far from the VAT cut
  • Business rates relief or small business grants to tourism businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector in England

During a debate on ‘Aviation, Travel and Tourism Industries’ in the Commons chamber, held on 10 June 2021, Members raised several issues. Many recognised the success of the UK’s vaccination programme but felt this success should now be used to open up the travel sector. Several felt that additional financial support could be required for the travel sector in the future, if travel restrictions under the ‘Traffic Light’ system were not relaxed soon. Some called for more countries to be placed on the ‘green list’, for Covid travel testing to be made available more cheaply, or for ‘vaccination passports’ to be recognised more quickly, among other concerns.

The Library has prepared the attached material about the sector’s contribution to the UK economy pre-pandemic, the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions have had on it, the support which the UK government has provided to date, and outstanding issues as restrictions ease and the sector looks to recover.


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