We are more than simply aviation and airports. We are a complex industry comprising of many different stakeholders – an entire eco-system including many hundreds of travel agents and small businesses who have been forgotten.
Of course, we welcome tighter short-term border controls if that is what is necessary to keep the country safe and reduce the rate of transmission.
But it appears our ministers have a flippant disregard for a sector critical to an island nation; our connectivity is what has contributed to making the UK a global powerhouse.
While their overdue action has now been enforced, albeit set to create another logistical nightmare for travel agents and travellers, it is consumer confidence – yet again – that will be damaged, alongside the financial damage to travel businesses.
The government’s Global Travel Taskforce was created in response to the specific challenges posed by Covid-19 to international travel, and one of its key objectives was to increase consumer confidence and reduce the barriers to a safe and sustainable recovery of international travel.
Perhaps if there had been consultation between the taskforce and the industry, a solution to the ongoing travel restrictions – including the hotel quarantine policy – could have been agreed and planned for.
January and February are typically the time travel agents and the broader industry would generate a vast majority of its revenue for that year, but due to the pandemic and crushed consumer confidence, travel companies are having to deal with abysmal trading conditions after almost a year of no income.
As we’ve witnessed first-hand, a lot can happen in six months; a lot can happen in a week.
Right now, our tour operator partners are offering extremely flexible booking options, and when opting for an Atol-protected package, customer monies are protected – so to tell people not to consider planning a future trip is misguided.
What the government continually fails to acknowledge are the number of jobs sustained by the outbound travel industry.
After nearly a year of disruption, with international travel effectively shut down, our members represent hundreds of business owners across the UK, more than 50% of whom are unable to benefit from government grants due to not being in a designated ‘closed’ retail environment.
There is a complete lack of comprehension that international travel has not recovered, not earned any income for almost 12 months, and is expected to survive.
Travel is more than just holidays. Travel is needed for businesses and families rely on travel to spend time with loved ones who live far apart.