Mixed messages from ministers, confusion over the government’s stance on refund credit notes (RCNs) and a new “don’t go on holiday” social media ad campaign (pictured below) saw the travel sector’s frustrations with Westminster’s response to the coronavirus crisis come to the boil last week.
“We seem to have no friends in government,” Idle Travel director Tony Mann told TTG. “I’m gobsmacked by [this advert]. At this time, we can’t go on holiday, so why state the obvious? It just doesn’t need to be said.”
Abta also upped the pressure on government this past week. It welcomed EU backing for RCNs, but said it was now over to the government and the CAA to do the same and provide the industry the certainty on RCNs it “has long been waiting for”.
Citing the Air Travel Trust Fund payment terms, Abta insists no change in law is necessary for RCNs to carry over protection from the original booking, but has called on the CAA to make this explicit.
It came the same week government announced a 14-day quarantine requirement for arrivals, with other countries – most notably Spain – taking similar steps. Trailfinders chief Toby Kelly called for “more workable” solutions, while Balpa and Iata warned of the dire economic impacts of quarantine.
Elsewhere, feathers were ruffled when both health secretary Matt Hancock and transport secretary Grant Shapps talked down the prospect of overseas travel this summer on TV; Hancock told ITV’s This Morning “big, lavish international holidays” were unlikely, before Shapps warned consumers booking a 2020 summer holiday risked “taking a chance on the direction the virus goes”.
“You know what they say, loose lips sink ships,” added Mann. “It knocks everyone’s confidence when the industry is trying to get up and running again.”