The chairman of Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) UK & Ireland has urged the industry to “sit tight” until the coronavirus situation improves as it launches a trade forum for members to support each other.

Chris Crampton said he remained optimistic that the long-haul travel sector would recover in the long term from the impact of the pandemic but said members had to sit it out in the meantime.

He said: “Sit tight; things will get better and improve. I remain optimistic about the long term future. It’s probably the hardest time that any of us in the travel industry has ever had.

“It will at some point be over and we all need to be ready for that. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel. The fundamentals of travel have not changed; people will still want to travel.”

He said the industry had performed miracles to get holidaymakers home, adding: “We should pay tribute to the people in the industry who have worked to get people home and probably not got the credit for their hard work. The wider world is not necessarily understanding of the challenges they face.”

His comments came as Pata UK & Ireland – which promotes travel to the Pacific Asia region –  launched an online forum intended to help members swap ideas and support each other to get through the crisis.

The forum, aimed at suppliers, airlines, tourist boards, destination management companies and hoteliers, has been launched on Pata UK & Ireland’s Coronavirus Crisis Support on pata.org.uk.

The support page went live at the end of February, offering advice and updates for travel agents from supplier, airline and tourist board members regarding the coronavirus and travel to the region.

Pata is also considering the rollout of webinars for the trade at a later date.

More at: Coronavirus: Latest news and updates