We’ve been lobbying hard for a traffic light system for many months now, and we live in hope of an announcement on which countries are "green" soon.
The final meeting of the Scottish Aviation Working Group takes places this Friday (30 April) so we won’t know any outcomes until after this group, on which we sit, announces their recommendations.
However, what we, and Scottish travellers really need, is a four nations approach to traffic lights and all other issues.
Agencies that have opened up this week for the first time since December 2020 have seen a reasonable restart, with some bookings coming in, but the travelling public – who are desperate to travel again – are reluctant to book in case the country they wish to travel to is not "green lighted".
Sadly, some agents have chosen not to reopen at this time as the uncertainty is making them weigh up the business benefits of a restart in the current climate if they have nothing to sell.
Of course, this means they’re making no money. With each day that goes by with no firm announcements, the chances of them being able to reopen successfully get slimmer and slimmer.
The real issue of concern for Scottish agents is that we’re seeing an increase in clients who want to move their bookings to an English departure airport as they lack confidence Scotland will adopt a four nations approach.
We’ve asked for clarity for travellers throughout the pandemic, and it’s still what people need. They – and agents – don’t want to wade through fake news.
Agents have clients who are telling them they’ve read certain countries will definitely be "green". We need information on this now so agents can advise their clients and allow them to make informed decisions.
The news about the use of NHS app has very well received by the Scottish trade. The only caveat is that we’re waiting for confirmation the app will work for Scots too, as responsibility for the NHS in Scotland is a devolved matter. Using app technology which already exists makes good sense. We hope to have the answer to this on Friday.
Scotland’s connectivity is rapidly disintegrating, and the announcement this week that Virgin Atlantic has cancelled its 2021 flights from Glasgow to Orlando is another serious blow to an industry under siege. This move will see more Scots travelling south of the border for Florida flights.
Cumulatively, the loss of routes is having a massive impact on Scotland as a country, and the full picture of the cost of this to our economy, business and our social connections has not yet fully materialised.
It’s such a serious situation for a small country like Scotland, which has always punched way above its weight on a global map.
Joanne Dooey is president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), and owner of agency Love To Travel.