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Appeal to save 30,000 jobs

Sturgeon accused of causing travel chaos and confusion

Jacqueline Dobson: ‘inundated with calls from customers’

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of sowing more “chaos and confusion”by issuing contradictory messages over international travel.

Travel agency boss Jacqueline Dobson said the First Minister’s call not to book overseas holidays during the half-term October break contradicted the Scottish Government and Foreign Office’s own published rules on international travel.

These continue to list a number of popular holiday destinations as being open to holidaymakers and which do not restrict travel in October.

Ms Dobson, President of Barrhead Travel, said: “This conflicting message is another body blow to an industry on which 30,000 Scots depend for their livelihoods.

“There has been a clear demand for last minute holidays in September and October but this statement has caused real confusion and concern amongst Scottish holidaymakers.

“We have been inundated with calls from customers asking for advice on what they should do – whether to follow the First Minister’s guidance or the Scottish Government and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s published rules. This conflict has caused chaos among concerned holidaymakers.”

She added: “As an ABTA member, we are bound by and recognise Foreign Office guidelines – these are the guidelines that the UK travel industry follow.

“So, while our staff are doing our best to support our customers, this conflict means that they will not necessarily get their money back from tour operators if they cancel if there is no specific advisory against travel.’

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Calling for the Scottish Government to provide additional support to save jobs across the industry, she added: “We have worked hard to ensure the health and safety of all our employees and customers and are following the Government guidelines on Covid-19.  

“We fully support their public health message, however, this has to be balanced by proactive measures to support our industry and the people who work in it.”

Ms Dobson said that Scotland’s travel sector had already suffered long-term damage with a dramatic reduction in capacity. Emirates flights to Dubai have been halved, TUI have pulled out of Aberdeen until next year and there is a risk of permanently losing key US routes to New York and Orlando.

Key connecting services via London and Amsterdam have also been reduced, making long-haul destinations less accessible.

She added: “We are asking the First Minister, not just on behalf of Barrhead Travel but on behalf of the whole sector, to engage with us today to protect the long-term sustainability of an industry that is a key driver of the Scottish economy. Protecting public health and protecting jobs need not be mutually exclusive.”

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