I was unable to secure a speaking slot in the vital general debate on Aviation, Travel and Tourism, but here is what I wanted to say in Parliament.

Six months ago, I signed a Cross Party letter penned by the Honourable Member for Crawley, following the Prime Minister’s announcement suspending all travel corridors and introducing further restrictions for people arriving in the UK.

This was sadly a necessary measure to tackle a serious health emergency and protect the UK from the spread of new variants of COVID-19. But the letter also called for a comprehensive ‘Aviation, Travel and Tourism Recovery Package’.

If such a package was urgent then it is needed today more than ever. The further restrictions, the introduction of ever changing red, green, and amber list countries, the quarantine hotels have quite literally pushed our aviation and tourist industry to the very edge of destruction.

Of course, travel restrictions are vital in the fight against the relentless pandemic and the variants that have sprung into being, such as the highly infectious Delta Variant. But the package we called for back in January was designed to provide the basis for the regeneration of an entire sector that is of crucial importance to the British economy.

Because of the current restrictions on air travel and the lack of international visitors to our country means that we are losing sixty million pounds a day in exports.
And if the requirement for EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals to be no longer able to use their ID cards to enter our country comes into force on 1 October this year we will lose an estimated seven hundred and twenty two million pounds because people from those countries will simply stop bothering to visit the UK.

A collapse in inbound tourism will put thousands of jobs at risk. There are currently five hundred thousand people who work in tourism across the United Kingdom’s four nations. I shudder to think how many of them will find themselves joining the ever growing ranks of those forced to endure the misery of life on Universal Credit.

And it is not just the tourist industry suffering. Prior to the pandemic UK business generated two point five billion pounds of revenue every year from the aviation industry and its supply chain. The Future of Aviation Group estimate that with international travel now down by ninety seven percent of its pre-Covid level, thirty thousand jobs in UK airlines have already gone and one point five million are at risk if something is not done quickly.
Add to this grim picture the jobs being lost in the aircraft building industry, such as at Broughton, near Chester, and it is clear that unless action is taken not only jobs will disappear but so too will the skills and the hope for future apprenticeships that these industries can offer.

We risk creating a wasteland in the communities that depend upon aviation, aerospace, and tourism if we fail to match the necessary restrictions with the necessary support for a recovery.
But as we said in January, recovery is possible if we deal with this crisis by providing large scale targeted support that can save these industries. We need to match the significantly larger packages of support that the US and many European countries have provided to aviation, aerospace, travel and tourism.

I have long argued that the key to recovery is sector specific financial support. Supermarkets and Online businesses have boomed during the pandemic. Aviation hasn’t. That’s why the Chancellor should extend the furlough scheme for these battered sectors through to the end of the winter of 2021 and 2022.

The repayment deadline for paying back the variety of business loans should be extended and there should be full business rate relief for the entire sector.  A series of grants – not loans – targeted to aviation, travel, and tourism, including inbound tourist businesses, should be put in place.

The other week the government offered one point four billion pounds to help children to catch up. This pathetic gesture amounts to fifty pound per child. If the government’s support for the aviation and tourism sector is as measly and mean as it has been for education then the industry’s gravestone will carry the legend, killed by the government not by the pandemic.

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