There is no doubting that the travel and hospitality industries have been as badly affected as any during the Covid pandemic…
I personally operate a small incoming travel business to the UK and following a raft of cancellations last year, have not seen a booking since.
Airlines, hotels, venues, guides, sightseeing attractions, you name it – they have all been badly affected and many have gone to the wall, whilst others have hung on by their fingertips due to government support.
Many hospitality businesses and tour operators have had to have their annual accounts qualified. This is because the Going Concern status of the company (its future viability) is subject to a turnaround and at this time, this is subject to conjecture. It is hoped that the government will at least be able to make arrangements for many businesses who are paying rent, so that the cash flow on that is eased over a period of time, which could be crucial to their survival.
One thing is for sure, however, is that people, not just in the UK but in most places, are champing at the bit to be able to travel. But in light of the Indian Covid variant which is spreading rapidly in some areas of the UK, should we be so keen to escape these shores?
From May 17, new guidelines for travel came into place for the UK and the government has rated countries as green, amber or red depending on their Covid infection rates.
Initial green light countries include Australia (except that’ll be an issue as Australia’s borders are closed to all but Australian citizens and permanent residents at the moment), New Zealand, Israel (although probably not a good option given the current conflict), Iceland (a summer delight and from my own experience, highly recommended) and Portugal or Gibraltar (if you want some Mediterranean sun).
But despite the opening up of some borders and relaxing of some restrictions, there are sure to be many hassles involved in international travel that previously did not exist such as taking PCR tests before leaving the country, demonstrating a COVID-19 vaccination status for outbound international travel, wearing a mask when flying and adhering to local restrictions and rules.
We are also at a point in the UK where new infections and deaths from Covid are at low levels, so should we be risking another upsurge here by possibly allowing new variants through our borders? The vaccine rollout has helped dramatically, but we cannot rely on it until it has been distributed worldwide.
We have to think of our own tourism industry too. Given that it has also been suffering and the likelihood of many visitors to the UK this summer is fairly remote, should we not use the opportunity to travel within the UK this year and then abroad next?
There are so many pretty and interesting places in the UK one can visit. York, Chester, Brighton and Edinburgh are simply a delight and Norfolk, the Lake District and Devon and Cornwall are all places of immense beauty.
Attractions are re-opening, there will be music festivals and many activities both indoors and out. The weather is pretty good in July and August and you won’t have the cost of flights.
I feel that 2021 is the year that we start to return to normality, but with caution. So let’s start by staying in the British Isles this summer and making sure the UK tourism industry survives, so that in the future, we can again welcome many visitors to our shores.