After former prime minister Theresa May urged the government to get on with establishing an airport Covid testing regime, travel gained another unlikely and unexpected champion this week.
TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp was the latest high-profile name to highlight the sector’s plight in a string of tweets on Friday (11 September) after having to scrap a trip to Turkey next week.
“Before you ask, yes I do think it’s OK to have a ‘holiday’ in a ’pandemic’,”she tweeted, adding: “Because there’s a holiday industry which employs hundreds of thousands of hard-working, tax-paying people – livelihoods matter.”
And before you ask, yes I do think it’s OK to have a “holiday” in a “pandemic” because there’s a holiday industry which employs hundreds of thousands of hard working, tax paying people, livelihoods matter.— Kirstie Allsopp (@KirstieMAllsopp) September 11, 2020
Several travel industry figures quickly gave her comments their backing, led by Kuoni boss Derek Jones: “First Eamonn Holmes, then Theresa May, now Kirstie Allsopp – and Kirstie says it best of all,” said Jones.
He added: “Genuinely, thank you for that Kirstie. It’s heartbreaking to see so many travel industry colleagues losing their jobs.”
Responding to Jones on Holmes, May and Allsopp, Holidaysplease director Richard Dixon described them, jokingly, as a “new, improved breed of travel influencers”.
Jessica Taylor, boss of Exhale Luxury Travel, added: “Thank you for saying this Kirstie – there are lots of folk that don’t want to travel, but just as many that do.
“Every day, I am seeing excellent UK travel businesses close their doors as our industry falls to its knees. The govt needs to address this fast. Airport testing is key.”
Speaking in parliament on Thursday (10 September), May accused the government of “dragging its feet” on airport testing.
“Testing has to be the way forward but airports are not even permitted to trial tests on passengers,” said May during a debate on supporting the aviation sector in the House of Commons.
“Far from leading the world, the UK has been lagging behind – Japan has been testing since April. We have to see testing introduced in our airports. Test on arrival and test a few days later to reduce the quarantine.
“Give our airports permission to trial tests. Stop the UK dragging its feet, set the standard for the rest of the world.”
It comes after TV’s Eamonn Holmes told This Morning viewers in July to put their trust in their local travel agent.
“This makes me think that surely from here on in, it strengthens the hand of travel agents,” said Holmes when discussed holiday disruption owing to coronavirus.
“The old fashioned thing where you could lift up the phone and call your local travel agent and say ‘look, what’s happening?’ and you’ve got a point of reference.”