Hoteliers in popular European destinations are refusing British business due to uncertainty over the Government’s travel rules, it was claimed last night.
It comes as new analysis by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has found 195,000 travel industry jobs have been lost, or are at imminent risk because of the devastating effect of the pandemic.
With the possibility of overseas holidays not opening up until August and uncertainty when hotspots might make the Government’s travel “green list”, European vendors are losing trust in the UK market and some are now said to be refusing bookings.
Noel Josephides, chairman of travel agency Sunvil, and former chairman of ABTA, told i: “They’re saying we don’t want these bookings, they don’t trust it, and it’s destroying our business.
“Hoteliers are turning round to us now, and we’ve got thousands of confirmed bookings, and they’re saying ‘so far you’ve cancelled May, you’ve cancelled June, you’re now going to cancel July, because we doubt that anything is likely to change, how do we know you’re not going to cancel August?’
“It’s happening everywhere, in our case it’s in Greece and as a tour operator and you have to have sympathy for them.”
He said the hotels don’t want to lose the UK clients because they “spend more money than anyone else with the exception of the Swiss” but at the moment see business from other countries, who are allowing vaccinated citizens to travel, as more reliable.
He added: “They’re saying ‘you’re Government’s unreliable, so why should we honour your bookings in August when we know we can get bookings from the Germans, the French and Italians’, because all the Europeans are travelling.”
It emerged On Thursday ministers are considering changing rules to allow double jabbed Britons to go to amber destinations without quarantining on their return something several other European countries are already doing.
Confidence in the Government’s travel traffic-light system introduced last month was shattered when Portugal was added to the “green list” and then abruptly removed three weeks later.
Many customers are now “increasingly nervous with the uncertainty”, according to Mr Josephides, and are cancelling summer trips because destinations remain on the amber list and Government advice remains they shouldn’t go.
He added: “It’s quite a serious problem for us tour operators because in many ways we’re held to blame by the hoteliers when our hands are completely tied.
“Most of our customers have had two vaccinations, and they just cannot understand the policy where they feel they are quite safe to travel and want to travel.”
Meanwhile new research by ABTA estimated the livelihoods of more than a third (195,000) of 526,000 people employed by the UK travel sector face being wiped out with individual jobs and whole businesses on the brink.
A staggering 57 per cent of small to medium size travel agencies won’t have enough cash to survive more than three months based on current conditions and available Government support, the study showed.
The association urged the Government to extend existing financial support and says it is critical countries with high vaccination rates and low infection rates are added to the green list.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “Travel businesses feel completely abandoned by the Government, which has consistently failed to provide adequate support for an industry which has borne the brunt of the economic fallout from the pandemic.
“People have worked tirelessly through the pandemic trying to stay afloat, taking on extra jobs, having to make long-standing, valued staff redundant, worrying about mounting debts. While we can clearly see the financial toll with jobs and businesses lost, the emotional toll of this ongoing battle, which still has no discernible end in sight, cannot be underestimated.
“Unless the Government’s strategic review of international travel on 28 June brings forth a sensible plan for travel to reopen for the summer and targeted support that recognises the catastrophic economic hit that the sector has taken, the industry will truly begin to buckle before the summer is over.”
This article was first published by: Hugo Daniel 18.06.2021 – Microsoft News