Taskforce to look at how international travel begins again
Travel agents have a huge opportunity to offer a “balanced, honest perspective” as travel reopens, the CEO at Advantage Travel Partnership has said.
This week, it was announced that holidays could as early as May 17, as government laid out its roadmap for exiting lockdown. A Department for Transport review into how to allow inbound and outbound travel to restart will report on April 12.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said the resumption of travel is “vital for many businesses which have been hardest hit including retail, hospitality, tourism and aviation”, but would be subject to a review to resolve “key questions”. He said the taskforce will allow Britons to “plan for summer”.
Julia Lo Bue-Said: “At long last we have had some positive news for the industry this week and we welcome the fact that travel businesses are reporting a surge in bookings and enquiries after the PM’s announcement. While we are optimistic at the pent up demand from consumers and the plan to get the UK out of lockdown, we need to be mindful that the dates outlined are not set in stone and there is a need to err on the side of caution for summer departures. Clarity is still needed from government on quarantine hotels, quarantine periods, testing and vaccine passports and until further details have been received from the Global Travel Taskforce and we have a better understanding of the protocols that may be in place, it is highly probable that travel for this summer will be restricted in some way.
“Following a year that has shaken the industry to its core, many travel agents are still working really hard to rebook their customers who have bookings with departures up to the 17th May. Things are certainly looking better than they were this time last week but there are still a significant number of challenges to overcome. In the budget next week it is critical for the Chancellor to recognise that travel agents have received virtually no income for over a year now with the majority trading down 90 per pent.
“Travel agents have a huge opportunity to offer that balanced, honest perspective which is why we created our Keep Calm & Dream of Travel campaign, to highlight a customer commitment for agents to present to their customers for when the time is right to travel again. Travel agents have access to flexible booking options and with the knowledge and guidance that a local travel agent can offer, there has never been a better time for consumers to book a holiday using an agent – but cautious optimism is needed.”
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, the Travel Association said: “The prime minister’s announcement today sets an ambition to get people travelling before the summer – which will not only be crucial for travel businesses whose revenues have been wiped out, but also for the millions of people who are desperate to travel again, whether to see friends and relatives based overseas or for a much needed holiday.
“We’re pleased to see the government has responded to our calls to engage with industry on a specific roadmap for travel, and we welcome that the Global Travel Taskforce will reconvene to work with ABTA and the wider travel industry on a plan for reopening travel.
“Even with the prospect of travel resuming, we renew our call to the chancellor to use his budget next week to provide tailored financial support to travel agents and tour operators, recognising the pressing need that travel companies have for financial assistance if they are to come through the weeks ahead.”