Kuoni’s UK boss has re-emphasised the importance of “affordable” airport testing despite progress on finding a vaccine for the coronavirus earlier this week.
Derek Jones, chief executive of Kuoni’s parent company Der Touristik UK, said there had been a “small increase” in bookings since Pfizer’s announcement of successful trials of its Covid-19 vaccine on Monday (9 November).
But during an appearance on Radio 4’s You and Yours consumer programme, Jones said the short-term solution to restarting travel was down to the successful implementation of airport testing.
“In the short-term, I don’t think a vaccine is an answer to holidays this winter,” he added. “The more important thing is a testing regime. We need to work closely with the government and internationally to make sure we have an agreed testing regime at the airport before travel.
“The key thing is to have a quick, efficient and affordable test. If we can get that, I can’t see why travel cannot open up in the early part of 2021. The short-term solution is going to have to revolve around testing.”
Kuoni, along with brands such as Jet2.com and Trailfinders, has been praised by consumer body Which? for its speed in processing refunds for customers since the start of the Covid crisis.
But Jones admitted that the industry’s reputation had been “tarnished” by some other travel companies who took much longer to issue refunds.
“I do think businesses should have responded differently,” he said. “The vast majority of specialist tour operators and travel agents on the high street did the right thing.
“It’s a shame others didn’t respond more quickly. As an industry, we have been tarnished by that and we need to speak up for businesses that did do the right thing.”