Travel’s COVID-19 Conundrum

As the tourism industry waits like a bruised tiger to bounce back, there is presently an excited, yet anxious, feeling of being in a storm before the calm.

Today the Prime Minister announced a sequence of checks “so that people can plan for the summer”, one of which will assess “a resumption to international travel”. There will be a report by the government’s Global Travel Taskforce due by 12th April, 2021.

To the backdrop of the ever-expanding UK vaccine programme, there is still huge frustration within the UK travel & tourism industry at the lack of Government engagement, let alone clarity on how best to assist our sector out of this pandemic.

On the basis that you cannot simply plug-in & go again without considerable planning, the need for a clear and comprehensive line of communication around COVID-19 is crucial.

Although on the face of it we should see a return to travel soon enough, it continues to be severely hampered by a fragmented stream of UK Government mixed messages. Led by the beleaguered Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps, the government’s sense of understanding and involvement in tourism remains at best shambolic.

Indeed, as the collective expertise of our industry continues to grapple with a UK Government who at best appears uninterested, and at worst unable to grasp the industry’s importance in offering 2.6 million jobs and contributing £106 billion p.a. to British economy, the job on how best to come out of COVID-19 is being led by a variety of stakeholders.

For instance, in addition to Nomadic Thoughts’ own trade body, AITO (The Specialist Travel Association) calling for an eight-point post pandemic plan, The Save Future Travel Coalition, which comprises 12 organisations, urgently calls for the Government to adopt a set of measures aimed at putting travel on a firmer footing into next year.

Additionally, addressing the issues surrounding consumer confidence in booking future holidays, the recently launched Save Our Summer campaign is calling for quarantine measures to be lifted and a reopening of travel date to be set.

The Future of Aviation Group, in response to international travel’s 97% coronavirus fall impacting on over 4 million UK jobs, is campaigning for wider support for air travel and the travel & tourism industries. AirlinesUK is equally desperate in pressing the Government for an aviation road map out of the present situation.

On a wider scale, as 2020 saw one billion fewer international travellers (‘Worst Year in Tourism History’), the UNWTO (who’s Global Tourism Crisis Committee recently met to explore ‘safe travel in the age of vaccines’) is now addressing global tourism’s post-COVID recovery.

Despite the lack of Government support, potential recovery is boosted by the current surge in the price of the pound, boost in the markets, potential advent of Vaccine Passports, advanced testing and the overwhelming desire for people to get moving again.

Head down and fingers crossed travel’s COVID-19 conundrum improves soon.

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