SOS – Travel Action Day
Travel Day of Action – 23rd June 2021, 18 months after the initial COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, the UK’s beleaguered outbound travel industry converges on Parliament to lobby a previously unsympathetic Government for (a) sector specific financial support; (b) an appropriate Travel Traffic Light system.
As without action on both cases one of the world’s most innovative, diverse, and knowledgeable travel & tourism industries is in acute danger of total catastrophe.
Although an industry catastrophe that is difficult to fathom unless you are directly involved, it will have far reaching implications – not least as the wider Travel & Tourism GDP contribution of £220+ billion p.a. is crucial.
Even when viewing from a distance, it is hard to appreciate the economic fall out across all tourism sectors whose wholescale halting of holidays shows no sign of re-emerging anytime soon.
On a personal level, the continuation of sleepless nights of worry, underpinned by the potential economic ruin to not only ourselves, but also our international suppliers and fellow travel colleagues shows no sign of abating.
‘Travel’ was the first industry to be hit by the coronavirus, and will be the last to return.
Although our Nomadic Thoughts clients’ pre-paid money is 100% secure thanks to our ATOL Licence, as with any other travel organiser, our long-term future remains very much in the balance. With no meaningful income due in until 2022 at the earliest, our ability to trade out of this stagnation is hampered by the fact that there continues to be no appropriate or affective leadership from a government who appear unconcerned with an outbound industry previously worth £70 billon.
In addition to having no present client travel, Nomadic Thoughts count on two hands the number of customers we have sent away over the past 18 months. Equally, the level of previously booked trips that have been postponed (in some cases 7 times), leaves us precariously balanced between managing to safeguard pre-booked client trips on the one hand, and being vulnerable to pre-paid airlines’, hotels’, transportation companies’ and local destination management providers’ financial collapse.
Industry statistics do not lie.
Globally, 2022 will more likely than not see no meaningful return to holiday travel with-in Latin America, Africa, most of Asia or Oceania. Europe is precariously balanced for a potential short summer season.
Worldwide, the lack of tourism during the coronavirus pandemic is hitting the international economy hard. For example, a sector that in normal times accounts for 10.4% of global GDP, it is in line to loss US$ 1.6 trillion, with many other tourism-dependent companies having to either close temporarily or go into administration.
75.2 million employment positions within tourism are projected to be made redundant worldwide, with 1 million of those found in the UK.
In pre-pandemic 2019, UK tourist visits abroad exceeded 93 million. Contributing over 15% of Europe’s £440 billion. In contrast, 2020, which saw an almost total cessation in holiday traffic from April onwards was boosted by a minor spike in European July/August holiday numbers, resulting in a drop to 23.8 million UK visits abroad.
The overall results of which mean that our otherwise disengaged UK Government (who granted, continue to have it coming from all angles presently) need to assist the outbound travel industry before it is too late. Whilst staycation travel is presently underpinning local tourism across the globe, the outbound sector is left almost totally unsupported without any appropriate lifeline.
For this reason, I joined fellow UK travel industry colleagues – including trade associations AITO, ABTA and British Aviation Group, the trade press (i.e. TTG & Travel Weekly) and pressure groups (i.e. Save Future Travel) – in lobbying Parliament during Travel’s Day of Action.
Our duel demands are to re-implementing a meaningful and workable travel traffic light system, backed up by industry specific financial support. As without a continuation of the furlough scheme the vast majority of travel companies will struggle to survive in the short, let along long term.
Interesting having attended the Parliament Green Lobbying event, I walked back to the Thames for a snack on bench overlooking the river and Millennium Wheel. In the process of chatting to lady, also parked up on the bench, seeing my Nomadic Thoughts banner she asked what the situation was in travel.
Having explained the dire travel & tourism situation, I concluded that the good news was that I believed the first people to walk past our bench would prove how well placed those in travel were in the long run. Suggesting that if asked “what they would do immediately after the pandemic” l believed their reply would be to ‘travel’.
Putting the theory to the test, I did ask the first couple of people walking past us. Both answered without batting an eyelid “travel abroad” and “go to Venice”.