"New year is a time to look forward," declares Travel Trade Consultancy’s Martin Alcock in this week’s One Last Thing (p76).
Despite him then acknowledging several potential obstacles (you can probably guess at least one of them), in the interests of embracing Alcock’s optimism, it’s worth highlighting the many reasons to be positive as we enter a new decade.
Firstly, there’s the fact that despite the high-profile collapse of Thomas Cook, apparently holidaymakers remain confident in package holidays.
Out of 1,000 people surveyed for BBC Radio 4’s consumer affairs programme You & Yours, nearly two-thirds said they were still happy to book an Atol-protected package trip (p7).
Then there’s the environmental question. Yes, it will undoubtedly bring challenges. But as Alcock points out, it’s a chance for smaller businesses to push their green credentials and differentiate themselves from larger rivals.
“Solutions and opportunities abound” for the sector, insists Responsible Travel’s Justin Francis (p26).
Meanwhile, it would be foolish to assume the political challenges are now over post-election – the UK will be exiting the EU on 31 January come what may, says the PM – and if he fails to secure a deal, the uncertainty that plagued 2019 could return with a vengeance.
But the transition period at least offers travel some certainty and Abta’s Mark Tanzer insists he remains confident (p22).
Crucially, it seems consumers do too. Agents have reported soaring sales as the peaks period kicks off, with 25% of respondents to a TTG poll describing bookings as “flying”.
Lance Fougere, senior travel consultant at Baldwins Travel, said last Thursday in particular had been “manic”, while Haslemere Travel had clients waiting at its doors at 9am (p7).
“I have a good feeling – I think 2020 will be a good year for travel agents,” Fougere added. Here’s hoping he’s right.