Round-table: Senior industry figures came together at T

Alistair Rowland

ravel Weekly’s office last

Kelly Cookes

Lewis warns businesses to ‘plan how to survive’

The industry is in a “brutal” situation and faces its biggest-ever challenge, The Travel Network Group chief executive Gary Lewis warned last week. Lewis told fellow industry

leaders: “Every business should be planning how they survive next week, next month, the next two months. “We’re talking about the whole

market 60% down, cruise 85% down. If we get that week on week on week it will have an enormous impact. “Are we going to see these levels

of bookings and trading until July? Very few travel companies have cash to last months at 85% down. That is why it’s a crisis.” Lewis noted the government

is trying to delay the coronavirus epidemic peaking until May and June, saying: “The government is trying to achieve a delay until the summer. We should be going along with that message, as brutal and as terrible as that is [for travel]. “It’s brutal because some

businesses will not survive if this lasts four months. Some won’t survive if it lasts one month. The reality is the

6 19 MARCH 2020

The crisis is [about] cash. Businesses need to work out how they going to get cash and for how long”

industry is not going to survive if it’s 12 months. So what should we be doing to get through? “The whole chain is integrated.

We’re all exposed to suppliers toppling over, to delayed cash payments. The crisis is [around] cash, and nobody knows how long this is going to last. So businesses need to work out how they going to get cash and for how long.” Lewis noted the chancellor’s

Budget last week “signalled some opportunities”, and said: “People should be looking at every opportunity – at controlling costs, cutting costs, having honest conversations [with business partners]. “If we are in lockdown for two months, everyone has to look

at their business and what the impact of that will be. The only things we can control right now are the conversations with existing customers and how we control costs.” He added: “Businesses fail slowly

and then very quickly. You have to be taking actions early enough to get through to the other side. “We’ve been advising members

for three weeks that the only things they can control are their costs.”

‘Industry needs support or will go into tailspin’

Businesses need urgent help from the government to prevent multiple failures, but measures in last week’s Budget went only part way in meeting industry leaders’ concerns. Abta chairman Alistair

Rowland said: “Abta lobbied before the Budget for bridging loans and credit availability, business rates relief, VAT and PAYE [tax] relief and payment holidays. There was a bit of recognition for small firms but not a lot, and not for medium and large businesses.” Barrhead Travel president

Jacqueline Dobson said: “The Budget was all about SMEs. There is no government help as yet for larger businesses with things like rates.” Josh Stevens, strategic

development director at Barrhead parent Travel Leaders Group, said: “We need support if this industry isn’t going to go into a tailspin. We’re doing more work but receiving very

Gary Lewis

little commission.” i Budget news: Business, page 46

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52