An independent agent says she has "proved the worth" of booking with a travel professional after helping a client obtain an NHS Covid letter ahead of their imminent trip to Malta.
Mel White, director of White’s Travel in Ellerker, East Yorkshire, was faced with a confused customer when the Maltese government suddenly announced it would only accept the NHS Covid letter as proof of vaccination, after previously stating the NHS app would be permitted.
Maltese authorities have reportedly since clarified their decision and are seemingly set to allow the NHS app.
White’s client, who is set to fly to Malta on Saturday (3 July), had only three days to source the crucial document.
"I texted my client last night (Tuesday, 29 June) to tell him to ring 119 this morning," she said.
"He was told they will get a letter to him, but it would take up to five days. Of course that wasn’t good enough as he’s travelling on Saturday."
"So I told him to come into the office this morning (Wednesday, 30 June) and we ran 119 together and we were told he could use the NHS app to get into any European country – which, of course, isn’t true."
Even though the duo were assured the letter was "likely" to arrive before Saturday, White advised her client to visit his GP surgery to see if they could help.
"I gave him a print-out of the UK and Maltese government’s guidance and his travel documents," she said.
"He went down there and about an hour later he texted me to say he had the letter. Unless you apply pressure in the right area I don’t think you’d get anywhere – but we did it in the right way and in the right spirit and got a good result in the end.
"We are very much hands-on with our clients. We book their tests, we make sure they have all of the information and documents they need to travel. We’re not just an agent that says ‘sorry, we’ll book your flights but you’re on your own to traverse through all of the bureaucracy going on at the moment’."
White urged fellow agents to use this opportunity to "prove our worth" to consumers amid the challenges of the Covid pandemic and the difficulties of international travel.
“We do need travel agents to stand up and say: ‘This is our time now, this is our time to prove our worth, who we are as an industry and what we can do for people as an industry’.”