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I agree 100%, but we have to face the reality though that no government in the world would want to take action (or not take action) that could lead to increased deaths as a result of COVID19. Spain's increase in cases (in addition to what we already know about the large number of COVID19 infections that are asymptomatic – which naturally wouldn’t increase the increase in case numbers) will have naturally raised a red flag, should the government have looked at restricting to just the areas of Spain showing higher tested infection rates or does the underlying data suggest that Spain could have a bigger issue, we'll know the answer to that one in time, but governments are responsible for ensuring that their infection rates don't increase and lead to even more deaths (we've seen in the press already the blame game associated with reported death numbers - albeit with every country reporting/testing differently this is a minefield!)
The above being said, the Travel Industry is suffering more than most and we need to take actions to support revenue generation and drive consumer confidence (albeit Pippa Jacks BBC advice this morning – “customers need to be comfortable that circumstance could change with little warning” is hugely important!)
Solutions:• Financial Support:o As an industry are we going to recover to the extent that we can unfurlough employees before the end of the furlough scheme without driving redundancies? – I’m not sure this is going to be possible for many players in the industry given current booking demand levels, we need to look at how our industry is supported to protect jobs given the travel industry will feel the effects of COVID19 for much longer than other industries! This should be a priority for Rishi Sunak!, wit the furlough scheme winding down we face a huge risk if we don’t see a solution!o The government need to look at how we can safely drive consumer confidence with better destination advice and data (albeit consumers have got to be made aware that circumstances could change with little warning)o Kick starting demand – Summer 2020 demand is clearly not going to recover to the levels we need it to as an industry, what can we do to kick-start 2021 bookings, this is where an APD holiday for 2021 bookings made in 2020 could provide financial support for customers (the general/mental well-being aspect of booking travel will be hugely beneficial for those customers who are happy to travel will be a major boost!!)• Consumer Confidence:o Dovetails with the above, but as an industry we’ve self-inflicted a chunk of negative consumer confidence ourselves given how we’ve let thousands of customers down with delayed refund payments… Focus needs to be on fixing the pain points and being able to deliver against expectations with regards to refund processing timelines… I think “Which” have helped with identifying some of the pain points and offenders at the top of the funnel, but the consumer blame will always sit with the sharp end/customer facing Travel Agents/OTA’s who have been hampered by suppliers (Airlines/Tour Ops) disregarding refund regulations and not passing funds down the chain. IATA and the CAA need to look at the implementation of a BSP Trust Fund, only passing payment to airlines on date of departure, this change would ensure that funds could flow back from the BSP to customer facing agents in a timely manner versus being heavily reliant on airline processing (& the delays we’ve seen curing the current crisis), whilst this change would of course have an impact on the airlines cashflow the resulting impact on consumer confidence and adhering to refund regulations would as an industry be the right move) As an industry we need ALL players to support complying with refund regulations, if a consumer wants a refund versus a credit note then we should support that decision,
We know the next few months are going to be equally as painful without solutions to stimulate SAFE travel at least until/if COVID19 finally burns itself out or a widespread vaccination programme is in place. But, taking actions now will ensure that we’re in a better position to survive and support our customers!
ABTA and ATOL need to urgently advise why Love Holidays website states the following:"Refund Credit Note. This amount is made up of your previous holiday cost minus the cost of the flight". "You’ll need to contact the airline directly to request a refund or change your flights. The airlines this applies to are:easyJetRyanair AerlingusWizzAirTUINorwegianVuelingPegasusIf your flight has been changed or cancelled, these airlines will contact you about your options and will handle this process from then on".