What about travellers?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

In the middle of the week it was announced that a new travel trade body had been formed. Called the Travel Industry Alliance (TIA), the purpose is to explore and suggest ways start travel safely.

cartoon of angry suitcase
Who talks on our behalf © Dan Sperrin

That it contains seven different trade bodies and omits a number of others including such important players as ABTA shows travellers just how many different bodies there are.

Why is a travel trade body of interest to holidaymakers, travellers and readers of Just about Travel?

Because it has no reperesentative of the public included.

But then who speaks for travellers? There is no association of holidaymakers or airline passengers, ferry passengers or anything like that.

We are the great unheard

I ask the question in the light of the two published aims of the TIA. They are

  1. Encourage the Foreign Office to pull back from issuing advisories due to Covid-19 and become a “purely informational” source
  2. Enable travellers to access the UK without any quarantine at the earliest opportunity, whether through pre-departure testing, test and release, or some other measure that helps restart travel.

The first point is that advisories are key for insurers. When issuing an advisory not to travel, most insurers will pay up on a policy if a booking is in place. It won’t pay up if you subsequently decide to go.

Yet governments around the world have a duty to liability for their citizens. Removing that duty would reove any government liability for its citizens other than in the broadest sense.

What suggestiion does TIA have to plug that gap?

Enabling people to travel again is what the trade and the public wants to do but the travel industry has not shown itself to be to respectful of its customers. One of the worldwide trade bodies, WTTC, called for international travel not to stop in the early days of the pandemic and then for testing as being the way forward. Now it rails against vaccination being the answer to travel saying that it disadvantages the unvaccinated without even considering that public support is for vaccination.

The industry didn’t help itself with the images of passenger crowding, no social distancing and little enforcement at Heathrow Airport last weekend.

Many readers consider that the travel industry has been more concerned with money rather than the health of its customers

Yes, the travel industry has suffered perhaps more than any other. It deserves more state support than it has had but it has been out- of – kilter with the thoughts of the public and it hasn’t been best served by Westminster. But it needs to get the public on its side.

These announced aims are not likely to achieve that.

Some aims that it might consider would be

1 – Roll forward holiday and flight bookings so that travellers can take them, without penalty, during the next three years.

2 – Negotiate a government financial support package covering the next two years so that travel staff are secure in their jobs and so that skills are not lost.

3 –Agree a plan to ring-fence holiday and flight payments so that companies cannot use those funds until the holiday has been completed and thus protect customer payments.

4- Encourage mass vaccinations and promote tourist bubbles between countries that have similar very high vaccination levels so that travel can restart asap.

5- Regularly contact past customers highlighting what efforts they are taking to keep them safe in the future and regularly asking for their opinions

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