“We’ve got to get tourism going again,” Boris Johnson declared last week.
It was a statement full of his usual bluster, but it was heartening nevertheless to hear the PM sympathising with a sector that has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, as demonstrated by last week’s potential job cuts from British Airways and Ryanair.
There was more positive news as Johnson announced the UK was finally past the peak of the disease. How long it will take for business to resume, though, is another question.
In the short term, it’s the domestic market that’s likely to lead the recovery, with mainstream operators rumoured to be looking at the launch of new domestic-focused programmes. This too, though, will need to be managed carefully.
As Johnson pointed out, while he commiserates with everyone in the tourism industry, the country cannot risk a second wave of Covid-19.
Equally as deadly for travel businesses is the lack of government intervention on the Package Travel Regulations. The industry simply cannot afford much more dithering from government on the longed- for amendments.
There are hints that perhaps other departments are listening; it was encouraging to hear Abta confirming the Competition and Markets Authority’s probe into consumer refund complaints does not include package holiday refunds.
And there was further optimism this week as new figures showed an increase in customer bookings. The latest TTG Travel Agent Tracker found 42% of respondents made a sale in the past week compared with only 29% in the previous survey.
It’s confirmation that for some in the trade, tourism is, thankfully, “already going”. If the sector is going to really bounce back “as strongly and as fast” as Johnson suggests, though, it will need more than government sentiment to aid its recovery.