Lobby groups will not be invited onto the government’s Global Travel Taskforce, according to a leading travel industry consultant with sources close to Whitehall.
Paul Charles, chief executive of The PC Agency, said: “I have a clear message for lobby groups that think they’re going to be on this task force; they’re not.
“The government is not listening to lobby groups. This is a government that has an 80-seat majority. It listens to its own MPs, but it doesn’t need to listen to lobby groups. And this is how the world changed under this government, compared with previous government.
“The people on this taskforce are going to be real business leaders, women and men, hopefully across the board, who have extreme experience of getting things done.”
Charles said that based on his discussions with senior sources, the people selected would be people who know how to practically implement a quarantine and testing process.
“They will need to be able to work out where do you do that test? How is it done? Which private facility is used? How would you tell people where they can go?” said Charles.
“These are the practicalities that they need. And so they need business people who know how to implement those sorts of solutions in business. So I think you’re going to see an airport boss, an airline boss, a cruise line boss, a tour operator, a travel agent, possibly an independent consultant, all those sorts of groups.
“It needs people with a broad overview and a detailed overview of the whole sector, ranging from tourism boards to cruise lines.
“There are a few people out there that can do that and I hope they take on board that expertise. But that’s the sort of group thing I think they’re going to have, rather than the lobby groups. Whilst some of them do a very good job, they really are not at the sharp end of delivering.”
Brian Young, UK and EMEA managing director of G Adventures and chairman of Atas, the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers, said: “Business leaders are the right people because, naturally, we run a business. The private sector is well-placed for this operationally. We can come together and make things move much, much quicker; cut through red tape and create the right solutions, alongside government.
“We already are – American Airlines is looking at working with governments on testing pre-flight, you’ve also got Air Canada who have come out with some stuff and Clia [with protocols and testing] for the cruise lines.
“There is definitely the ability and the desire. Let us help find the solutions and create the right environment to make this work. We definitely can do it. We’ve just got to get that voice around the table and actually, let [the government] put the onus on us to help create the solution and put it into play.”
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