Aito Agents chair Gemma Antrobus hails ‘some positives’ but says government fails to grasp industry dynamics

So, who else has read all 38 pages of the report written by the Global Travel Taskforce? It’s a riveting read!

Let me remind you how many representatives from the travel, hospitality and aviation industries are part of the taskforce…zero. My hopes, therefore, were not high when learning of the publication of this report. In its foreword, the taskforce states that it has spoken to representatives from the industry.

If someone could share with me who those representatives were, it might shed light on why, despite there being some positives, the report clearly demonstrates a total lack of understanding of our industry – something we have all screamed about so much that we are now hoarse.

The report confirms that Covid-19 has been an “existential threat” to a once-successful industry, which doesn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to work out. The big ‘win’ to come out of the taskforce, which comes into play with almost immediate effect, is the announcement of the ‘Test to release’ system, which will replace the existing 14 days’ quarantine period with a quarantine of, potentially, five days, with a test on day five.

What the document fails to address, however, is the fact that until the Foreign Office (FCDO) lifts the ‘all but essential’ travel ban to almost every country on Earth (aside from the few travel corridors currently in place) this new process is, in effect, useless.

Share positive news

I have obviously used the taskforce’s announcement in its most positive form, as I’m sure you all have, and have communicated it far and wide to my client base. After all, any positive travel stories are worth circulating. The detail is a little more complicated, but let’s not worry our clients with this until we are talking to them specifically about their travel plans.

Vaccines are obviously the Holy Grail for many, but we all appreciate this will take time to distribute. Until then, we must keep pushing for a staged process of recovery to equate to what we actually need. Please keep communicating with your local MPs about key issues, particularly surrounding the currently very flawed FCDO travel advice. We have fought so hard, for so long, that we must not give up now.

When you read the taskforce’s report, I hope you’ll agree with me that there seems to be a very unfair and negative bias against the cruise industry – exactly which cruise industry expert/s did they speak to to come up with this? From what I’ve seen, it is the cruise lines that have worked the hardest to ensure they go over and above the required standards to prove they are safe for our clients’ holidays.

I struggle to see how a cruise line is different from travelling by air and staying in a resort with hundreds of other guests. It makes no sense to me, and feels like bias.

What’s the outlook?

Analysis of this report could go on for days, but we must strive to see the positives. The aim is to initiate a Tourism Recovery Plan for both outbound and inbound travel, yet there is no specific indication of what this will look like, or when it will happen. But there is an effective communication campaign cited, so let’s keep our eyes peeled for that.

Next week we will see the international travel ban lifted and the end of Lockdown 2.0, so I will head back to my office, as I’m sure most retail agents will do. This year may have been the worst ever for our wonderful industry but, as we count down the days to 2021, I’m ever hopeful for a fresh start on January 1.