The Advantage Travel Partnership convened its own travel agent taskforce last week to contribute to its representations to government on plans to restart international travel this summer.
Fifteen agents were invited to share their thoughts and suggestions, which will be fed back to the government’s Global Travel Taskforce (GTT) ahead of its highly anticipated 12 April report.
It comes after Advantage was invited to join the GTT’s working group on consumer confidence to represent the concerns and requirements of the UK’s travel agent community.
On Wednesday (24 March), Advantage sent a six-page submission to the GTT, focusing on the value agents provide consumers to ensure an end-to-end travel journey and highlighting the added value that comes from consulting a human travel professional at a time of such great uncertainty.
Advantage’s paper recommends tactics to help rebuild consumer confidence, such as by providing greater clarity on, and transparency around, what destination-specific advice is aligned with Foreign Office advice.
It also advocates a more risk-based approach to restrictions that takes vaccination roll-outs into account.
Other key factors identified by Advantage’s agent taskforce include better access to more reliable and affordable testing, greater international collaboration, a digital vaccination certification regime, more alignment between the UK’s devolved administrations, and improved co-operation with the travel insurance sector.
Advantage chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said said: "In order to provide government with a comprehensive set of recommendations, we felt it was critical to ensure our members had the opportunity to directly contribute to our submission.
"Our own taskforce was convened within days of being asked to contribute to the recovery plan, and our submission is fully representative of the concerns of our members.
"We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with government at this critical time for the industry. The prime minister’s comments yesterday (Tuesday) implied the Global Travel Taskforce report will be brought forward to the 5 April, which certainly indicates his intention to take the opening up of travel seriously.
"We look forward to a report which will support the recovery of outbound travel this year."
Jane Middelton from the Authentic Travel Company was one of the agents to serve on Advantage’s panel. "As an independent travel agent and a member of the Advantage Travel Partnership, it is important we get our points of view across to government.
"These times are unprecedented for many industries, but it feels international travel is being turned into a force for evil, so we need to influence government messaging around what travellers are allowed to do and when."
Advantage’s agent taskforce included: