FRANCES TUKE: "#TRAVELDAYOFACTION IS ABOUT SPEAKING UP FOR AN INDUSTRY THAT HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY PREVENTED FROM TRADING EFFECTIVELY"
Frances Tuke, Account Director, at LOTUS:
I have been in constant awe at how resilient the travel industry has been under the sustained pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic and government policies.
The industry has an endurance and strength drawn from its ability to reinvent itself to meet the changing demands of its ever-evolving audiences.
But the Travel Day of Action on 23 June is about speaking up for an industry that, just when green shoots begin to appear, has been repeatedly prevented from trading effectively.
Despite its undeniable appeal to its loyal customers, the industry has been knocked down again and again throughout the duration of this pandemic through no fault of its own and by repeated government policies. Many of these policies have been understandable and supported, but too often the decisions behind them, particularly since the introduction of the most recent traffic light system, have lacked transparency and have inflicted devastating blows to consumer confidence.
The Prime Minister has admitted that this year will continue to be difficult for travel. So now he has to stick to the evidence when it comes to making decisions about future travel restrictions and his government needs to provide tailored financial support for the sectors most impacted by these decisions.
Each sector within the travel industry has faced its own unique challenges. All have had to create new processes and protocols to make the industry safe for its customers. Without fail, they have done this.
I will be at Westminster this week with client Focus Travel Partnership, the leading consortium for business travel for the SME sector.
The challenges for the business travel sector have been many. Yes, business travel has been allowed, but corporates have taken a rightfully cautious approach to their duty of care, and many will not send colleagues internationally unless all travel restrictions are lifted. Business travel retailers – or Travel Management Companies (TMCs) - have not, on the whole, been eligible for business rates relief.
The 50 Focus Travel Partners have had to make refunds, exchanges or vouchers for 35,000 airline tickets and that is while overall revenue has plummeted by 84% and ticket sales dropped by 75%.
Yes, it is great that fully jabbed Britons won’t have to quarantine when returning from amber-listed countries from August, but this policy is woefully late, and provides too little comfort too late.