'We don't know what we are doing from one week to the next': Bamber Bridge travel agent joins London protest calling for more sector support

An independent travel agent from Bamber Bridge joined forces with hundreds of other travel industry staff today in a protest at Parliament calling on more support and guidance.

By James Holt
Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 3:45 pm

Asking for more financial support from the Government and raising awareness about the challenges faced by the travel sector during the pandemic, Janette Ashby, owner of Global Travel Bamber Bridge, took part in the Save Travel Day of Action protests in London this afternoon.

The Travel Day of Action gave those working in the travel sector the chance to call on the Government for more support and demand holidays to be given the green light to safe countries with low Covid-19 levels.

As the wider domestic economy reopens, the UK travel and tourism sectors remain essentially closed and mired in uncertainty, as an estimated 195,000 jobs have been lost across the sector with many more remain at risk.

Janette, who has worked as a travel agent for more than 20 years, said the traffic light system has been confusing for both herself and customers and that travel agents have lost out on commission after refunding trips worth thousands of pounds.

She said: “We urge anyone who feels passionate about the cause, other travel businesses in our local community and wider outbound travel industry to get behind us, whether that be writing to your MP or sharing our message on social media.

“Our business has been dealt blow after blow since this pandemic began. In these past 14 months, we have worked tirelessly on behalf of our customers, dealing with a large number of amendments, cancellations and refunds, all whilst working on a reduced workforce and a dramatic drop in income.

“We can’t keep up with the guidance which is constantly changing and customers don’t know if they will be safe to go on holiday or if they will be asked to isolate if they can’t get home within just a few hours.

Janette Ashby, owner of Global Travel Bamber Bridge

"With the traffic light system, we don't know what the guidance will be from one week to the next. There is such a lack of clarity and leadership from the Government, and we get confused and don't know what we are doing. Legally we can book any holiday but whether it'll happen or not is another matter.

“We want clarity and hope that the Government takes notice of the day of action and acts on the industry’s demands before further damage is done.”

She joined Kirkham Travel, Garstang Travel and Luxury Escapes Whalley at the lobbies hosted at Westminster this afternoon, calling on more support for the hard-hit industry.

The event was organised to raise further awareness of the ongoing challenges faced by travel agents, tour operators, airlines, airports, and many other companies relying on international travel.

Staff in the travel industry called for more support

The travel industry representatives are asking the Government to allow international travel to return safely and, in a risk-managed way by properly implementing the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan for a traffic-light system.

This would see the Green list expanding in line with the evidence and making restrictions more proportionate, whilst keeping a strong red list to guard against variants.

And they are calling on parliament to bring forward a package of tailored financial support, including an extension of the furlough scheme until businesses can resume at a sustainable level.

The British travel industry generates over £53 billion in domestic spending and £28.4 billion in spending from foreign visitors and tourists.

The protest began at midday today at Westmister

Global Travel Bamber Bridge is a member of The Travel Network Group, the UK’s largest independent travel membership organisation representing more than 1,250 travel businesses.

Gary Lewis, CEO of The Travel Network Group said: “The Travel Day of Action has been organised in response to the latest announcement from the Government which effectively cancelled travel for the foreseeable future and went against the expectations set in the Global Travel Taskforce report.

"We are asking Members of Parliament to join the events meet with travel businesses from their constituencies and speak up for the travel industry.

"Until people can travel freely, and the travel industry is able to get back on its feet, we need the Government to provide direct financial sector-specific support which we have been calling for since Summer 2020.”

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Representatives from tour operators and travel agencies attend the ‘Travel Day of Action’ demonstration