Frustration, frustration, frustration

Tens of thousands of wannabe-holiday makers have been forced to ditch their Easter travel and holiday plans as travel bans are put in place and borders close.

While the idea of a refund from your travel agent or tour operator will no doubt be tempting, espeically while there’s employment uncertainty and continued economic volatility, a decision to postpone – rather than abandon – your holiday plans could help save the travel industry from collapse.

It’s not just the travel agents, flight attendants, hotel and airport staff who are facing unpaid leave who are feeling the impact of the travel ban.  Tourist guides at some of the most beautiful landmarks in the world, hoteliers, restaurants clubs and bars, as well as the Uber and taxi drivers and the hotdog and ice cream sellers all rely on your tourism.

When the travel bans are lifted and the borders reopen, we need a thriving travel industry in place to meet our need for travel.

Travel agents are showing us their mettle and value right now. Years of building up knowledge so they can share expertise and insight to ensure the greatest of escapes. Times such as this certainly demonstrate the advantage of booking through a human or reputable agency; they’ve got our backs and they know the small print, inside out. And that deserves our loyalty. What are our rights? Well, SETO (Syndicat des Entreprises du Tour Opérating) in France just got the go-ahead from the government to delay trips and issue vouchers to clients, rather than offering full reimbursements – it seems harsh, but perhaps we ought to postpone and feel complicit rather than shortchanged. ABTA is working to protect organisers who may have suppliers who are unable to refund – yes, there might be emergency funds to limit consumer hardship, but it could be for the best to avoid the headache and just push that trip back. It might be better for everyone in the long run.

When normal services resume, let’s be more mindful than ever of the power we hold as customers to help heal a post-C-word world. Let’s not scrabble around opportunistically for the cheapest bargains; instead think about every link in every supply chain that depends on our money. Consider how future trips can have a positive impact. According to the United Nations, for every $100 spent by a traveller from a developed country, only $5 stays in the local developing economy.

As thoughts of organic, plastic-free lives are gazumped by an appetite for antibacterial gels and latex gloves, please keep nurturing that conscience for the greater good when it comes to the world as a whole. Think of the most vulnerable humans at the end of the supply chains in the most deprived parts of the world who are having any flow of tourism totally cut off. ‘Rescheduling holidays also maintains that much-needed anticipation which gives us something to look forward to and helps us to all see the light at the end of the tunnel,’ says James Jayasundera, founder of Ampersand Travel. ‘If we care about all of these services that enhance our lives, we also need to look after them, too. Planning a new holiday or even postponing is going to help to give hope.’

Published on 19/03/20

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