Letter to Sturgeon
FM ‘must explain travel red card while fans boogie’
Travel sector bosses are angry over government policy
A travel industry leader has demanded First Minister Nicola Sturgeon explain why the sector remains under tight restrictions while football fans are allowed to ‘boogie’.
In an open letter to Ms Sturgeon, the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association has again listed inconsistencies in the application of Covid rules and warned that many in the travel industry face “destitution”.
The association has accused Ms Sturgeon of “not caring” about the sector and has invited her to meet representatives who will be demonstrating outside the Scottish parliament this week.
There is particular anger that that the industry is effectively shut down while thousands of football fans are being permitted to mingle during the Euro 2020 tournament.
The association’s concern follows comments by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham who said the SNP’s ban on travel from Scotland to Manchester, imposed last Friday, is an example of “double standards and hypocrisy”.
In the letter to the First Minister, SPAA president Joanne Doeey, says: “In case you hadn’t noticed – and to be frank we think you either haven’t noticed or you don’t care – travel is grounded, travel is beached. travel has run aground. travel is a sinking ship.
“We, the travel industry in Scotland, will be outside Holyrood at 12.30 on Wednesday 23 June and we challenge you to meet us, face to face over our respective facemasks, to tell us why travel has been given the red card, while football is permitted to boogie with mass fan zones.
“And we’ve got plenty more questions for you too.
“You told us that Scotland needed strong leadership and, as an industry we are talking with one voice today and asking you to show that leadership to the travel sector.
“Come and meet our members and tell them why you have effectively banned travel.
“Talk to award winning travel agents who were running successful Scottish SMEs –we don’t need to remind you that SMEs account for 99.3% of all private firms in Scotland employing 60% of the workforce – who face nothing short of destitution.”
She adds that the “irony” of the furlough scheme – which ought to have been a lifeline for their finances – is that despite having nothing to sell, agents had to remain open to handle the many thousands of customer bookings which have been “futile”.
The demonstration will be attended by airline pilots, cabin crew and tour operators.
Ms Dooey points out that level 2 support has been granted to other businesses which are able to trade in a reduced capacity such as hospitality businesses and taxi drivers.
“How can we get the message through to you that you may allow us to physically open our doors, but there is absolutely no income for us?
“You have allowed us to open in name only – officially open but not actually capable of trading.
“Let us tell you face to face that outbound tourism sustains more than 26k jobs in Scotland and that outbound travellers are worth almost £1.5 billion to the Scottish economy.
“Then you can explain to us why these jobs and this income for Scotland don’t matter.
“And in return we can ask you: why don’t you appear to trust the vaccine?
“Why is an industry which can demonstrate its ability to operate robust, safe testing effectively banned from operating, while thousands of football fans are permitted to mingle, mix and meet whilst being encouraged only to self test?
“When can we see the data which is triggering decisions about international travel?
“Why are you allowing Scotland to fall behind the rest of Europe which is opening its borders for international travel in a measured way recognising vaccination levels?
“Why are Scots expected to pay more for testing for travel than the rest of the UK?
“And of course, why did football get to keep their ball when you’ve taken travel’s ball home?”