UKinbound chairman James Aitken looks to the future

We all know what has happened over the last few months so I will not dwell on it. We have had to say farewell to much-loved colleagues and friends and have seen the demise of long-standing companies, with more to follow.

What about the future? We are all going to change the way we do business. People won’t travel in the same way as before – everyone will be working from home.

The recovery will take years. People will be frightened to take holidays, the travel industry won’t survive. Conferences and trade fairs will not exist.

We have all heard it, day in, day out for the last few months.

But is this really going to be the case? One thing we can be sure about is that human behaviour does not change. We want to socialise, we want to explore, we want to travel and we want to have fun.

The number of people able to afford to travel around the world is increasing exponentially year on year – that we can all agree on.

So here is my prediction based on nothing more than 30-odd years of experience and a hunch.

It will be bad, terrible even. Lots of companies will not survive and lots of people will lose their jobs. But in the end – and probably far sooner than we expect – the industry will be back on its feet.

Restaurants will be full. We will be complaining about hotel rates – tour operators will, at least.

We will be flying all over the world to attend trade fairs, we will be complaining about jet lag, we will be gossiping about our competitors and we will have overbookings. We will have difficult clients.

We won’t be able to find venues for events or tickets for matches. We will be discussing over-tourism and all the other annoyances which make us love our industry so much.

So my advice to all you wonderful tourism and hospitality businesses and professionals is this – don’t give up.

Remember why you went into the industry in the first place and look on this as a horrendous but temporary blip in your career.

Use the time wisely and remain positive if you can. You are not alone and all your colleagues and friends are here to support you in this difficult but historic time.

Keep your chin up.

James Aitken is chairman of UKinbound and chief executive of Cashel Travel