Backing ABTA’s calls on the Government to help protect the travel industry, teachers have said we should do what we can.
ABTA has launched the Save Future Travel campaign to put pressure on the Government to support the travel sector during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
It is asking people to visit www.savefuturetravel.co.uk and email their local MP to highlight pleas on behalf of the industry. Once on the website, you enter your postcode and a pre-written letter can then be submitted to your local MP.
It reads: “The Chancellor promised to do “whatever it takes” to help the country get through the coronavirus pandemic, and the travel industry now needs the Government to support vulnerable businesses through the crisis, which will in turn support their employees and ensure they are kept in employment.”
“It is vital that we find a solution that works for everyone”
Gill Harvey, chief executive of School Travel Forum, said: “This is an exceptionally difficult and challenging time for all involved - schools, parents and tour operators, it is vital that we find a solution that works for everyone.
“ABTA’s #SaveFutureTravel campaign is aimed at encouraging more time for normally viable and healthy businesses to provide customer refunds, while protecting the customer’s right to receive that refund.
“Governments have already acted in many other countries: France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands and Denmark have proposed temporary changes to existing regulations that are not fit for purpose in this current climate.
“School trips are such a valuable part of the learning experience. The benefits in terms of increasing confidence, independence, progress and attainment have been proven time and time again.
We are committed to ensuring all children continue to have the opportunity to take part in and enjoy these life-changing experiences. We can only do this if the industry receives the support asked for through this campaign.”
“We must collectively support the travel sector”
Ian Mitchell, deputy head of Kingswood House School in Surrey, said: “At Kingswood House, we have been very appreciative of the efforts of travel companies since we cancelled all the summer term’s residential trips.
“Some have been incredibly supportive and have helped us make alternative arrangements.”
“Now is the time for schools and anyone who has ever travelled to get behind ABTA’s Save Future Travel campaign because we need to help protect an industry that has done so much to promote education outside of the classroom.”
Ian added: “I urge everyone to email their MP by using the Save Future Travel website. By using a ready-made template, it took me less than five minutes to complete – a simple gesture we can all do working from home.”
Jon Clarke, shadow headteacher of Walsall Academy, said: “As teachers we care for children and want the best learning experiences for them. That is why many teachers give up their time to run learning outside of the classroom experiences.
“In essence all of our children are now out of the classroom but sensibly not exploring the world just yet. They may however be exploring using the plethora of online resources which I can only hope will stir their imagination and drive once we are allowed to travel to go and see it for real. We can only thank all those organisations who have put online resources on the internet.
“When we open our school doors again it will be very different, education will have changed and we must make sure that learning outside the classroom has a prominent position in this brave new world.”
Jon, who led the first state school expedition to Everest Base Camp in 2017, added: “Our challenge once bans are lifted will be to gain the confidence of the parents once more to support the schools and in many cases put hard earned money in place. We will all have to work together to support the travel industry to provide their valuable learning experiences and still be there when we need them in hopefully a few months time.
“We must therefore lend our voices collectively as teachers to make sure that we are supporting ABTA in lobbying the Government to give it support during this difficult time. Children must not lose out on vital social development by working in groups or having shared experiences.”
Tour operators praise teachers for their support
Mark Gardner, managing director at MSG Tours said: “It’s been a difficult few weeks for us at MSG Tours with this pandemic preventing our scheduled tours from departing. Many young people would have been counting down the days until their departures and we share their disappointment in missing out, too.
“But, with an opportunity to cancel, we are truly humbled that the schools and teams we’ve been working with have chosen to stick with us and move their tours to dates in which they will be able to travel.
“Our business may have struggled without the loyal support of the schools, teachers, clubs and coaches so to them we are truly thankful that they have been understanding and re-scheduled with us.
“We can’t wait for the day we can start sending the schools and teams around the globe again to continue their outside-of-the-classroom learning experience!”
What you can do
- Visit www.savefuturetravel.co.uk and send an electronic letter to MPs in support of the travel industry
- Show support on social media with the following example posts:
Facebook: I support @ABTAlovetravel’s call to @UKgovernment to do whatever it takes to protect travel industry jobs and customer money. I have emailed my local MP to help #SaveFutureTravel. Find out more at: www.savefuturetravel.co.uk #OneTravelIndustry
Twitter: I support @ABTAtravel’s call to @GOVUK to do whatever it takes to protect travel industry jobs and customer money. I have emailed my local MP to help #SaveFutureTravel. Find out more at: www.savefuturetravel.co.uk #OneTravelIndustry
What is ABTA asking for?
1. Temporary changes to the Package Travel Regulations
Under the existing regulations, tour operators have 14 days, from cancellation, to issue a full cash refund to customers. But ABTA wants this to be amended for companies to be able to offer refund credit notes as a short-term alternative to cash refunds to give businesses some breathing space.
The association states: “While this will involve a delay for consumers in receiving their money, or booking a replacement holiday arrangement, the alternative is mass travel company failures. That outcome would mean customers waiting longer to receive their money, and would also result in a far worse financial outcome for the Government, which acts as the financial guarantor of the UK’s holiday-based financial protection scheme.”
Many tour operators have been informing customers that, rather than them having the cash to be able to issue a refund - when a package is booked, payment is made to the other suppliers including airlines and hotels well in advance, and so they then have to recover these funds.
2. Financial liquidity and employment support
ABTA wants ministers to ensure that no travel business, of any size, is left to fall through the cracks when it comes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and for Government-backed loans.
3. Appropriate responses by credit card and other financial payments companies
The association wants officials to examine the operations of banks and credit card companies to ensure a proportionate response is being adopted by other actors in the financial protection environment.