Phil Gardner, ITT board director
As 2019 draws to a close I’ve been reflecting on its key events: the collapse of Thomas Cook and of course, Brexit and its domination of the election results.
But there remain a number of reasons to be positive.
Having spent the last four years of my career at Thomas Cook, there’s no doubt the collapse has hit hard in many places.
In a time of reflection though, it’s the wasted opportunity that stands out – arguably the best known brand in travel failing to move fast enough in a modern world, infamously crippled by debt and unable to invest.
It’s often said that joy can result from despair, and if we measure this based on the reaction of the industry then it’s hard to disagree. Sadness, and even anger, soon morphed into unprecedented messages of support.
We should all be walking tall to be part of such an industry movement.
Looking forward remains challenging with so many ex-Thomas Cook staff still out of work at a difficult time of the year. However, there is hope in the growth of rivals to quickly plug the capacity gaps, and fresh confidence.
In 20 years, I have never seen such a strong passion among employees as I did with Thomas Cook. While this was never going to be enough to save the business, it does leave me feeling grateful for the time I had there and proud to have served the brand and its people.
As we look elsewhere in the industry we continue to see growth and have good reason to think of a future where this industry continues to thrive, across cruise, touring and adventure and the continued strong performance of long-haul providers.
Brexit of course looms and political change will continue well into 2020 and beyond and we in the travel industry have a responsibility to watch, influence and learn wherever possible.
The great British public continues to place a holiday very high on their list, however. This bodes well not only for business but also for our sense of well-being, both as customers and industry insiders.
Never before has the coming together of industry bodies, enterprises and individuals been more purposeful and relevant. That can only be good news for the ITT, its members and all those associated with the industry.
Whatever your circumstances this Christmas, I wish you all the very best and here’s to a very prosperous 2020 for travel.