Travel Dreams

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Yesterday CD-Traveller covered the forecasts of ABTA for the coming year. As a change and since everyone else is forecasting (dreaming of what might be might be a better expression), I thought we would as well. Before that, however, let me wish you a happy new year. May 2011 bring all you wish for it because it certainly isn’t going to give me what I should like.
But let’s start with a quick review of the year – or at least from the point-of-view of the traveller.
Snow disrupted train, rail and air travel during the first bit of the year, – and then did exactly the same at the end of it. In between we had the British Airways strikes that caused more disruption and then the volcano. Not since the cod war, did Iceland receive so much attention. (It didn’t do them any harm; tourism to Iceland rose during the rest of the year.) Twice, one of our people was stuck in the mess of trying to return home. In this age of health & safety, the instant reaction was to close down any airport likely to be affected. Only when it turned out to be a longer event than planned did some rational thinking come into play. We had the usual succession of strikes through Europe to contend with plus the continuation of political unrest in Thailand. Tour operators and airlines went bust in the middle of the year before the summer season got under way putting even more strains on the bonding system. More of us cruised than ever before but one problem arose when due to the ash and weather and strikes, some people missed their cruises because they couldn’t get to the overseas ports. By booking air travel separately, some were left out-of-pocket as the bonding system was yet again shown to be deficient.. That could be one reason why people prefer to start cruising from UK/Irish ports. Even more ships will be based here in 2011 and Portsmouth will open a new cruise terminal.
What didn’t happen was more protection for those people who book air travel and accommodation separately. The ATOL bond covering package holidays is due for reform, there have been umpteen calls for the EU legislation to be altered and we await reports. Something is scheduled to happen in early 2011 but no legislation.
If I had a dream it would be – as readers well know – that politicians would get off their backsides and bring in legislation now so that each traveller pays the same sort of levy that ATOL booked holidaymakers do. Then all travelers are treated fairly. Will it happen in 2011? Legislation grinds slowly without political will. With no parliamentary committee on tourism what impetus is there? Politicians are anxious to take as much cash off us as they can through Air Passenger Duty (and tomorrow’s over-the-top rail fare increases) but reluctant to help consumer safeguards until the next airline or tour operator goes bust. Then, more words and more buck-passing.
So my wish for 2011 will probably be what I should like in 2012. And maybe even 2013. A fairer deal for travellers.

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