Published on : Saturday, July 18, 2020
The spokesman for the successful Quash Quarantine campaign says the travel industry needs a stronger lobbying voice to make its case to government.
Speaking at the first Travel Forward ONLINE Conference – a series of online mini-conferences, Paul Charles, Chief Executive and Founder of The PC Agency, said travel industry associations either did not understand the magnitude of the problem of quarantine or they were focused on other issues, such as refunds.
“We need a united front,” he said.
“The travel sector traditionally has not united in a great way; you’ve had these different sectors within the travel sector itself, be it airlines, airports or travel agents. You need a cross-genre group and that will be important in the future.”
The Quash Quarantine campaign brought together 500 travel and hospitality firms to show politicians, the media and the public how quarantine measures would damage the economy.
Quarantine rules for many destinations were dropped after just four weeks.
Charles said the campaign also revealed how the UK government has very narrow view of the travel industry.
“It’s not just airports and airlines; a lot of the travel sector is dominated by small travel agents and small tour operators. These businesses are really the backbone of the travel sector in the UK,” he said.
He hopes the government will learn from the first wave of coronavirus about the importance of consulting with the industry.
“One problem in the UK is, seemingly, the lack of willingness to consult. Some people may have been spoken to but not the whole travel sector. Measures have been introduced without that consultation,” he said.
“I hope the government will learn from that and in future consult with people before introducing things. The consultation process has to get much better.”
Charles was confident that the pandemic will not “kill off” the desire to explore but patterns of travel will change.
“We may reduce the amount of travelling we do and make it more high quality,” he said.
“We might spend more when we go on those trips and a lot of tourism boards are looking at how to attract higher-spending consumers in the future, but perhaps with less volume.
“Tourism has got a strong opportunity in the next few years because of the ability re-set and find out what wasn’t working pre-COVID, such as overtourism, and be more sustainable.”
City breaks are likely to struggle in the short-term as travellers avoid busy urban areas, while cruising looks set to bounce back in 2021, he added.
Currently, those offering villa breaks, wellness and wilderness holidays and domestic trips are seeing more bookings.
Those in the over-60s market are less likely to travel overseas until a vaccine is found, while those aged 18 to 30 will drive the recovery – even though many have been hit by job losses.
The pandemic is also driving more innovation in digital technology, so contactless travel will become more widespread as the industry minimises human-to-human contact.