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Luxury Holidays

The Government is failing the travel industry, and they don’t care

The travel industry has always been one filled with fun, optimism and freedom. During a world pandemic no matter where you are achieving any or all of those three ambitions can be somewhat trying and the foundations on what we know crumble under that pressure.

At the end of the day there is only one thing we care deeply for, and that’s our clients. The last thing we would want to do is expose them to the virus, and safety is the upmost importance. Hotels, airlines, airports and any element of the travel story has gone to great lengths to make sure the experience is as safe as it possibly can be.

We’re also a business. We therefore need an income. With few or previously few travelling that meant we were doing double the amount of work, essentially for nothing. Bookings we made months ago were cancelled (with no protection of commission to agents in the main), and the volume of new bookings dried up. Few industries had to make the number of refunds that the travel industry did, and of course buckled under the pressure.

Comments therefore by prominent political figures including Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, or Boris Johnson in England suggesting you shouldn’t take a foreign holiday on one hand, but doesn’t give further assistance to the businesses providing those holidays on the other. Is the travel industry supposed to live on fresh air?

In Australia, with borders closed they have extended their furlough scheme for sectors hit hardest by a border closure which includes the travel industry to next year. With Covid-19 now taking hold in Victoria, that support is much needed.

Yes, we have the ‘lifeline’ of air corridors, predominantly in Europe, but that too isn’t really a lifeline. As we discovered with Spain, it can be withdrawn within hours and gives no real guarantee to someone who wants to travel that they won’t have to quarantine on their return to the UK. Where is going to be next, France?

Really, the government should be showing their workings in the margin. Show us daily the numbers you are working to for these ‘safe corridor’ and then set a threshold for cases/per hundred thousand. Then you have a transparent system that both the industry and travelling public know, so they can asses their own risk. The current system is more like throwing darts at a dartboard blindfolded at the moment – how are we supposed to advise without knowing the information?

They also should be regional, so while some parts of a country might have a high Covid-19 rate, if under control, it shouldn’t mean that other parts should be shut out. This was only highlighted at the weekend, when the Canary Islands has only 200 active cases, which equates to one case per one hundred thousand, which is much lower than the UK average. The vague excuse that it could be transported from the mainland in volume appears to be unfounded.

Then it comes to quarantine on arrival, something which isn’t sustainable. When its not being militantly enforced, who is really going to abide by it completely? If the government believe people will, they are completely deluded. There has to be a simple alternative, whether its testing at the airport, testing before leaving the destination (which yes, will require, heaven forbid, cooperation between countries), or even double testing to make sure. You could also include parameters, allowing some freedom, but minimising integration with others – like encouraging working from home on the return etc.

This isn’t reckless, or irresponsible. Its trying to find a way of making travel possible for those who want to, but making it safe for everyone. The travel industry can’t pause for an indefinate amount of time with no additional support, people can’t live on nothing and the longer this pandemic lasts, the worse it is going to get.

It is on the governments shoulders, a government who clearly doesn’t understand how the industry operates and seemingly doesn’t want to either. From the inside, we know what needs to be done – both to make it safe and for businesses to operate. The indecision, dithering and lying has to stop, we need answers and solutions to the questions…

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