Leading travel industry figures and bodies, as well as agents, have blasted transport secretary Grant Shapps’ “ill-considered and flippant” remark about not booking a holiday this summer.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday (17 April), just a day after the UK government extended its nationwide Covid-19 lockdown for “at least” a further three weeks, Shapps quipped: “I won’t be booking a summer holiday at this point, let’s put it that way.”
Abta branded the remark “a thoughtless comment, not based on any facts”, adding it showed “complete disregard” for the UK travel industry and its employees.
“It would be better if the government focused on taking the necessary steps to support the sector rather than undermining confidence in it,” said a spokesperson.
Aito echoed Abta’s indignation, describing the comment as “ill-considered and flippant”.
“Mr Shapps owes us not only a retraction, and an apology, but also – very importantly – some long overdue practical assistance, which has been sorely lacking to date,” said Aito, referring to the ongoing refunds crisis in travel.
“We need him and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to confer urgently with the travel industry – Abta, Aito and other leading bodies – to sort out the PTR debacle on refunds and ensure practical and workable steps are agreed to enable the travel industry to plan properly for a sensible resumption of travel, and holidays, within a realistic and workable time frame.”