Travel agents protest outside Holyrood parliament for more support

About 100 Travel Agents have demanded for support and airport testing

The Holyrood parliament building – travel agents went there to protest.

By Democrat reporter

About 100 travel agents have staged a demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament building demanding tailored support for the sector during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) organised the protest and said turnout would have been greater if not for Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The group also wants the country to be “leading the way” with airport testing.

Joanne Dooey, SPAA president and owner of three small travel agencies in North Lanarkshire, said despite Covid-19 issues the industry still had a “duty of care to its customers”.

She told the PA news agency: “The only support that our industry has had is the grant at the start for which we’ve got a premises so the majority of us got £10,000 or we maybe got £7,500 if we’ve got a second.

“Because of the industry we’re in we have to work to get people thousands and thousands of pounds of refunds back for customers … we had to fight to get people repatriated.

“We only make money when people travel, when their holiday gets cancelled we have to give the commission back – coffee shops haven’t had to give their profit back that they made last year on everybody that had a cup of coffee in their shop.”

She added: “Travel agents fall under retail but we’re a retailer with nothing to sell because we’re not allowed to sell holidays or trips obviously because of the ban on travelling and the quarantine situation – we’ve got a real nightmare.

“As for testing, why are we not leading the way like we usually do? Over 30 other countries have got a testing regime in their airports or resorts where you can get the results back within 20 minutes.”

Ms Dooey also told PA that travel agents cannot access the furlough scheme because of their need to work.

While employees will get 80% – in the scheme that UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Thursday would be extended until March – she said no other money coming in means high street shops will have to close their doors.

Ahead of a meeting with business minister Jamie Hepburn next week, Ms Dooey added: “We’re directors of our business so we’ve had no wages since March because there’s no profit coming in.

“It’s not about us wanting to get everyone out for two weeks in the sun, we’ve got people that have not seen their families, people living abroad that want to come back home but can’t.”

She added: “Quite a few agents have closed their doors in Scotland already, agents that have had enough after being there for a long time – it’s soul-destroying to see it happening.”

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “The travel industry are crying out for urgent support and the SNP need to outline how they will support vital jobs and livelihoods in the sector.

“A robust testing regime at our airports should be at the heart of any plans, that will allow us to have a sustainable tourism industry when it safe to do so.”

“Rishi Sunak has stepped up again and delivered a further £1 billion for Scotland – that funding now must be delivered immediately by the SNP to our struggling airport sector to safeguard jobs.”

Mr Hepburn said: “While protecting public health must remain our priority, we do not underestimate the significant impact this pandemic has had and continues to have on the tourism sector, both outbound and inbound.

“We are engaging with the sector, including with the SPAA, in order to fully appreciate and understand the current challenges they face and will continue to do so in order to help support those businesses.

“We are doing everything we can with our limited powers to help businesses, offering support which now exceeds £2.3 billion in addition to the UK Government’s furlough scheme.”

The UK Government has been contacted for comment.


The beach within a stroll of La Ramblas in Barcelona, a pleasure denied for Scots right now.
Today representatives of the Scottish Travel Trade make their way to Holyrood to highlight the lack of support for the travel industry during the pandemic.
Yes they have had Furlough support and business grants BUT agents don’t EARN any money to keep their business going and pay the bills UNTIL a client pays their final balance.
This is quite unique compared to other market sectors.
Scotland also needs an affordable, comprehensive testing system to enable customers to travel safely when they are able to do so.
Today I ask that you support your local Travel Agent and plan a holiday to look forward to for next year or the year after and also to SHARE this, in order to #savescottishtravel 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

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