The biggest challenge facing the global travel industry is to make holidaymakers feel comfortable about flying again, says G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip.
Poon Tip admitted he was still pinning hopes on a “miraculous rebound” but said there would be opportunities in the new travel environment for the industry to “reinvent itself”.
But he criticised the UK government’s plans for a 14-day quarantine after flying into the UK as scare tactics which send out the wrong message to consumers.
He urged governments to invest in technology to provide quick and easy tests for coronavirus at airports, such finger pricks, to allow travel to take place.
Speaking at the launch of his e-book Unlearn: The Year the Earth Stood Still, he said: “I think governments are saying things to calm down the public but it’s misguided because technology will work faster than that. I know some of the Middle Eastern carriers are doing finger prick testing.
“It’s spreading fear of quarantine that sends out the wrong message. I think it’s bad leadership personally.
“Our biggest challenge as an industry is getting people comfortable with flying again, something we took for granted before. There’s the added complication of the close proximity on an aircraft. I think there will be different levels for when people are comfortable about going on planes.”
Poon Tip is hopeful that by September travel will start to recover and that the industry will take the opportunity to look at the way it is structured and encourage more responsible travel.
He said: “We are all living in a bad Will Smith movie right now. It’s a challenge. It’s scary, but opportunities are great for the first to adapt.
“We are all at ‘ground zero’ right now but the pandemic will change people’s travel habits and the overall landscape.”
He predicted a rise in independent travel and small, specialist groups as well as well as more responsible travel, but warned: “We are not working as collectively as we could be.”
Poon Tip said the industry would be forced to look at how it currently worked in terms of payment to suppliers.
He said: “Travel agents don’t pay us until after travel but we are putting up money to hotels and attractions and to buy local flights as soon as we have the deposit, when we don’t have [all] the money [from the customer].”
Webcast: Bruce Poon Tip
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