Hays Travel owners John and Irene Hays are calling on the government for a “more nuanced” approach to the Foreign Office’s travel advice.
It comes after the company announced almost 900 jobs at risk yesterday, following the government’s “U-turn” on its Spain travel advice.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast this morning, Irene Hays described the move as “like turning off a tap”.
Asked whether Hays and other travel businesses would inevitably have to make more job cuts should the advice change for other destinations so rapidly, she said: “I think the government has also said it will change its view, and its advice with the FCO if they’re presented with evidence.
“We believe a more nuanced approach would be more appropriate. The Canaries and Balearics have low infection rates. We believe the government could still change that and we could recover the summer.”
John Hays added: “We totally understand the government’s decision in Barcelona, Catalonia and mainland Spain.
“Where the problem arises is in the rest of the country, where there’s really low incidences of outbreaks of the disease.
“The Germans right now will be on their way to these places. And there’s no quarantine for them.”
He revealed 40 major industry players, including airlines, airports, major tour operators, had written a letter asking the prime minister “why is the Costa del Sol safe for Germans but not for Britons?”
"It was like turning off a tap"— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) August 4, 2020
Irene Hays from Hays Travel tells #BBCBreakfast the 14-day quarantine imposed on Spain was a big factor in their decision to put almost 900 employees at risk of redundancy.
More here: https://t.co/5znuH7nl3B pic.twitter.com/auTrtyo0tA
Asked by the host whether she could directly relate Hays’s need to make redundancies “what you believe to be a mistaken government decision”, Irene Hays said: “There’s clear evidence that just before a week ago last Saturday the figures were coming back steadily and we were really pleased with the return of new bookings – not just for 2021 where we’re actually performing quite strongly, but steadily coming in for summer 2020, which would have helped recover the position in terms of staffing.
“In the earlier months of lockdown we were in a negative revenue position and chose to bring staff back from furlough very early – 3,000.
“We’ve remained in negative revenue until about six weeks ago and bookings started to come back. But Saturday [the government’s change in Spain advice] was like turning off a tap.”
John Hays said Hays had a two-year plan, but explained “it’s very tough for the travel industry throughout the world and the UK”.
“Everyone from tour operators, airlines and travel agencies – everyone’s in distress at the moment.”