Vacation trade stays hopeful regardless of ongoing pandemic

Left to right: Branch Manager Hayley Gulliver, Emma Bagley, Maria Sanchez, and Assistant Manager Jade WarhurstMaggie Rogers who runs The Travelwallet in BridgnorthMaggie Rogers who runs The Travelwallet in BridgnorthBasharat Khan who operates ACE Travel & Money TransferBasharat Khan who operates ACE Travel & Money TransferMaggie RogersMaggie Rogers

Right now, the vacation industry should prepare for a rush as people look to summer 2021.

The truth is, nobody knows if something that is posted now will become a reality.

The confusion and chaos surrounding this year’s lockdown did not improve the situation.

Thousands of flights have been canceled this year and some travelers struggled to get refunds from airlines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Some operators have mothballed their planes, others have completely disappeared.

It is a worrying time, not least for the travel agents, who need to understand the situation and advise customers on the best course of action.

The lives of travel agents have been disrupted more than most other people by the Covid-19 outbreak. Vacationers’ fears have lost faith in the concept of going abroad amid our ever-changing coronavirus guidelines.

But companies say there are still signs of positive attitudes. People are looking for something to look forward to.

They rebook flights for the years 2021 and 2022 after writing off their vacation in 2020.

At Hays Travel in Oldbury, manager Hayley Gulliver has optimistic outlook for the trade.

Left to right: Branch Manager Hayley Gulliver, Emma Bagley, Maria Sanchez, and Assistant Manager Jade Warhurst

She said: “All flights booked with us were canceled after we were locked in March, but we started taking bookings again in July.

“Most of them – between 300 and 400 – have rebooked for the next year or so, but I’d say 20 percent have rebooked for 2022.

“There was a lot of disturbance for people, but we could help them.”

The independent company based in Sunderland took over from Thomas Cook after her death in time for the pandemic.

However, due to the expected increase in holiday demand, the introduction of the offers for 2022 on flights is being brought forward.

At ACE Travel & Money Transfer in Tividale, the store’s manager, Basharat Khan, says many customers who have flown to Pakistan have struggled to get refunds when flights have been canceled.

Basharat Khan who operates ACE Travel & Money Transfer

He said: “We have had a lot of complaints. My business mainly involves Pakistan and passengers traveling with Pakistani International Airlines.

“When flights are canceled, one reason is Covid-19 while the second is because European countries are banning their flights.

“So let’s say someone paid £ 800 to fly back from Birmingham. They made one leg of the trip, but they couldn’t bring the passengers back.”

“You said you had to rebook a ticket and get it refunded when you return to the UK.

“But many customers who paid a lot of money to return here on a one-way flight from Pakistan were only reimbursed £ 70 to £ 80.”

At The Travelwallet in Bridgnorth, managing director Maggie Rogers said most customers have opted for refunds on canceled flights, with some rescheduling their holidays to 2021.

The company, which Ms. Rogers says is the only travel agency in Bridgnorth still in operation, serves customers across the region, from the Black Country to rural Shropshire.

Maggie Rogers

“The difficult thing for us is that we get a commission from tour operators for booking vacations,” she said.

“But when customers choose to get refunds, we also have to refund our commission. It’s like giving back last year’s profits.”

She said trade increased over the summer, but the ever-changing government coronavirus restrictions would affect people’s confidence in travel.

Ms. Rogers says she has been in the travel industry for 40 years but “has never been in a situation like this”.

Despite the difficult trading conditions, she has vowed that her company will stay open and that the employees will continue to work hard for their customers.

The travel industry’s hopes, like the rest of us, lie in a vaccine that can reduce the crisis enough that people can book with full confidence again.

The travel association, which represents travel agents, has asked the government to step in now and help the trade.

A spokesperson said: “The Chancellor’s announcement that it will support an expanded version of the Job Support Scheme to help businesses shut down due to local lockdowns has little to do with the UK’s £ 60 billion travel industry, or the nearly one million people who work in this sector.

“For nearly eight months the travel industry has been hampered by global advice against all but essential travel, the ever-changing quarantine rules, and the government’s failure to put in place a testing regime that would help reopen many destinations.

“The announcement of a Global Travel Taskforce is a recognition of the difficulties companies across the travel industry are facing.

“However, we cannot afford to wait weeks for additional help. It is important that the government act quickly to help the troubled tour operators and their staff.

“Without additional support, we will see more job losses while traveling in the coming weeks, in addition to the more than 100,000 roles that have already been lost or endangered due to the crisis.”

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