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INDUSTRY EXPERTS


Roadmap to Recovery Travel Weekly webcasts: Our latest guests spoke in the wake of the su TRAVEL COUNSELLORS’ HUGHES


Paul Charles


Richard Singer


Travel xyx xyx y xy xyx yxyxy xyx xyx yx Gary xy xyx yxyxyxLewis


‘The government’s advice on Spain is devastating’


T


he “abrupt fashion” in which the government announced its travel restrictions for Spain will


devastate consumer confidence about booking holidays, industry leaders warned. The Travel Network Group chief


executive Gary Lewis said: “You can’t underestimate the huge impact this has on customers; on our members; on the momentum that was slowly building over the last four weeks around customers having confidence to start considering going on holiday. “We’ve all talked about what


happens if there is a second spike in another country. The government has set up a structure to be able to include and not include countries [in its ‘safe lists’]. But for Spain to hit now is devastating. For it to come in in such a fashion, it had a double impact on our ability to understand and deal with the logic.” Lewis said the “abrupt” introduc-


tion of restrictions to the UK’s biggest outbound destination, “seemingly without consultation or conversation”, had caused “such noise and fear”.


10 6 AUGUST 2020 Richard Singer, chief executive


of holiday price comparison site icelolly.com, agreed, saying: “Yes, the government had said they could do this, but it’s the fashion in which they’ve done it that makes confidence just disappear from people.” Singer predicted that the


“handbrake” put on holidays to Spain by the government would dent consumer confidence for all overseas travel this summer. He added: “Regardless of which


destination you’re going to, you’re going to think ‘I’m not sure this is a particularly good idea’. “People will think ‘I don’t want


quarantine restrictions to happen to me’ or they will be thinking ‘my employer won’t pay for me if I have to quarantine’.” Paul Charles, spokesman for the Quash Quarantine campaign, said he thought it was unlikely the government would make a rapid U-turn on its decision to advise against all but essential travel to Spain. But he called on the government to share the data it is using to make decisions on travel advice with the industry.


Kirsten Hughes


Weekly’s Lucy Huxley


‘There’s never been a better time to set up in travel’


T


here has “never been a better time to set up a business in travel”, according to the managing


director of Travel Counsellors. Kirsten Hughes said the


homeworking business was taking on new recruits every week and was a “consideration” for anyone who was “despairing having lost their job” or who had found that working from home suited them during the lockdown. She said: “We’re getting a lot of


recruits. Each week we’ve had new starters – we have four this week. “There has never been a better time


to start your business in travel because it is going to bounce back – and bounce back quickly – so we are seeing a lot of interest.” Hughes said the lockdown had


shown people who might never have considered working from home before what it was like. “Everybody was forced to work from home, particularly independent travel agents, who have had to close down shops,” she said. Hughes highlighted “challenges” for the high street, such as having to wear


It is going to bounce back – and bounce back quickly – so we are seeing a lot of interest


masks and social distancing in shops. “It’s not easy to talk to somebody


with a mask on, and we don’t know how long that’s going to last,” she said. Hughes said she had taken on


many travel counsellors in the wake of industry employees being made redundant, including those affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook last year. But she acknowledged that “we


wouldn’t be right for everybody”. And she said the company had so


far not lost many of its homeworkers as a result of the crisis. “To date, our attrition [rate] has


been very low; probably lower than it was this time last year,” she added. “The strongest will survive. There


will be some casualties in the industry, but we’re all focused on getting as many


through as we can.” i Your Stories, page 20


travelweekly.co.uk


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