Scotland travel agents protest travel restrictions

Elizabeth Meade writes on the recent protests outside the Scottish Parliament.

Elizabeth Meade
16th November 2020
Last week, about 100 travel agents in Scotland staged a protest outside the Scottish Parliament, holding colorful signs and waving flags while standing outside in their coats and masks. Asking for greater, more targeted support, the protesters were led by the Scottish Passenger Agents' Association (SPAA). SPAA claims that COVID-19 has left the travel industry "broken and broke" and that "a clear strategy and action plan for how the Scottish and UK governments will get travel moving again" is necessary to save the 26,000 jobs in the sector.

COVID-19 has had a notable impact on travel and the travel industry--many countries have instated various travel bans and regulations on entering or exiting. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that an estimated 500 travel jobs in Scotland have been lost since March. Joanne Dooey, president of SPAA, claimed that the job loss rate could "accelerate rapidly as the industry enters a second year of zero revenue," also citing that travel agents did not get paid for their 2019 work on 2020 bookings because all of the money went to tour operators due to the payment model.

The SPAA's requests included a "tailored support package of grants" and "a credible, robust and affordable" testing scheme to be created at airports before the holiday season in order to allay worry about travel and reduce quarantine time. Dooey said that "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 £7500 if we've got a second," which many travel agents believe was not enough.

Business Minister Jamie Hepburn replied that "We are doing everything we can with our limited powers to help businesses, offering support which now exceeds £2.3bn in addition to the UK government's furlough scheme."

Jamie Hepburn MSP

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AUTHOR: Elizabeth Meade
Science sub-ed and Chemistry major. Avid reader. Chaos theorist. Amateur batrachologist and historian. Rock fan. Likes cybersecurity and cooking.

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