Shortly before the sad news of the Duke of Edinburgh’s passing broke on Friday (9 April), we had the publication of the Global Travel Taskforce report.
Naturally, national media scrutiny of the report was overtaken by that event, but for many within the industry, the overriding sentiments expressed in the reactions before that announcement were grimly familiar – frustration and disappointment. Let’s start with the positives. The industry requested a framework based on tiers, which delivers a more stable and robust outcome than last summer. The government’s traffic-light system should go some way to ensuring this is delivered.
The government has also reiterated its intention to enable international travel to resume this summer, hopefully from 17 May, and the cruise industry will be part of the resumption alongside other modes of travel. Crucially, ministers have also stopped advising people not to plan and book their summer trips – indeed, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, was adopting a positive tone towards booking future travel during his interviews on Friday morning.
These are the building blocks upon which, alongside the reopening of travel agencies across the country this week, we can begin the long road to the recovery of the UK’s travel industry. However, while the framework is step forward, the lack of detail within the Global Travel Taskforce report – especially around the criteria that will be used to make country assessments – is extremely frustrating.
Businesses need this detail to be able to plan effectively, and consumers want certainty and a steer about which destinations they can visit this summer. The failure to publish the full list of countries, more than a month out from the intended restart date, is perhaps understandable – but an open and transparent approach around the considerations that will be in play, including some detail on criteria that will be used, is something the industry had reasonably expected in the report. The fact this will not be forthcoming until early May will set back the recovery timeline for the sector.