The government “shot the industry in the foot” when it failed to relax the 14-day refund requirement for Covid cancellations, a leading agent has said.
Refunds were a recurring theme during a special TTG Agent Matters on Friday (24 July) celebrating the UK’s first National Travel Agent Day.
TravelTime World director Jackie Steadman said the government was “completely wrong” not to give the industry more time to issue refunds in such an unprecedented situation.
“If they had said ‘we’re going to give you 14 weeks’, instead of 14 days, we probably could have delivered,” she said.
“It would have bought the tour operators time. The government shot us in the foot by not making that stand. If they had given us time, as an industry, we would have a better reputation today.”
Claire Moore, managing director of Peakes Travel Elite, added: “It’s an issue we can definitely overcome. But with the lack of government support, it was a battle we were never going to win.”
Henbury Travel owner Richard Slater blasted some operators’ “shocking” communication, with one firm taking four weeks to respond.
“A lot of reputations have been spoilt, and some reputations have been enhanced. Agents and customers will vote with their feet,” he said.
Moore stressed the importance of “consistent communication” to maintain and rebuild consumer confidence, including initiatives such as National Travel Agent Day.
“It should be about sharing collective successes as we all do a great job,” she said.
Steadman said: “By raising the profile of travel agents, people can see the value in using one, as well as being used to some degree for lobbying.”