We’re over 18 months into the travel industry’s pandemic. It started in Wuhan in late 2019, when tours were cancelled, cruise lines rerouted and travellers diverted. Then the world stopped.
Since then, despite the world becoming a much smaller place as scientists create the vaccines which will enable us to regain our lives back, we made sure that we looked after everyone. Yes, everyone.
The government decided that the fairest approach to help businesses was a blanket approach – a furlough scheme whilst helpful to some industries, was only partially helpful for travel as cancellations, postponements, and administering refunds hit. A grant scheme, where the sectors hardest hit, got the least amount of money – and a government insistence that the only alternative option was to take out government-backed loans. With 18 months of little income, and the summer season rapidly disappearing, the travel and aviation industries can’t wait any longer and are asking for support from the government.
I saw this on Twitter this morning. Just imagine if other industries have had to endure what travel and aviation has:
Imagine saying to a pub – ‘Great news, you can open up, but you can’t sell and drinks though’. Even better, you need to bring back all your staff and extras, because everyday people are going to turn up and you’re going to have to give them their money back. Money for the beer you sold them two years ago!
The breweries won’t give your the money back though, so please take out a lean to pay them back.
Here’s the best bit, every day ministers are going on the TV and telling the public, ‘Pubs might be open BUT your really shouldn’t be using them if you want to protest the NHS, avoid killing your friends and family.’ You should drink home-brew in your front room.
Yes, you can dream of going to a pub, but don’t expect to go in one any time soon. If we see you in one, even though they are allowed to be open, we will tell you how bad you are for going and make you take a test and stay at home. Not one of these excellent tests we are giving away for free. No, a special test that you will have to pay loads of money for because we need to find new Variants of Concern.
So, today – Travel and Aviation unite in London to make our story heard to Government.
There was light at the end of the tunnel, the government taking onboard the suggestions from the travel industry through the Global Travel Taskforce and implementing a risk-based approach through the Traffic Light system and testing regime. This hasn’t worked, with the government’s overly cautious approach leaving two destinations we can actually travel to in Iceland and Gibraltar after Portugal was unceremoniously dumped after just a matter of weeks. We can’t help you, without the government helping all of us in both making travel accessible and safe.
Today is about making that point. Without help, this time next year there won’t be a travel industry if the current restrictions continue – we won’t be the centre of excellence for aviation – a reputation we have held for decades, and we won’t be a well-connected ‘Global Britain’ the government wants us to be. Without the human connection to our friends and neighbours around the world, it’s just not possible to be ‘Global’.
We hope everyone will join us in spreading this message. The travel industry is not just about holidays, although that is great, we all love a holiday. It’s about connections – working abroad, family abroad, friends abroad, making new friends abroad and living life as a Global citizen.