I remain amazed that young people, who have virtually nothing to fear from Covid-19 have allowed the older generation to disrupt their lives so greatly with Covid-19 restriction.
Firstly, we locked down the country entirely, with everybody confined to home for weeks with only essential shopping and limited exercise allowed and only gradually have we opened up restaurants, pubs and gyms, with nightclubs and Universities remaining in short term lockdown.
Away in Croatia last week, ahead of its imminent shut down I spoke to a group of 20-year olds, who seemed surprised at my questions about a youth rebellion.
One commented “Mate, why would we rebel when we’ve just had 4 months paid holiday to laze around the house. I’m back to work now, so all’s good”.
It will, however, be interesting to see if attitudes harden once Furlough ends, millions are added to the dole queue and the toughest economic recession of our life takes a grip. Unfortunately, it’s the less experienced younger workforce who are set to be hit hardest.
At the moment the government has been able to balance unpopular lockdown decisions with billions in giveaways, including CIBIL loans, rebound loans, eat out to help out schemes and tax cuts on housing stamp duty. But the “Cookie” jar is nearly empty and tougher days lay ahead.
The Travel Industry is also beginning to rebel, with holiday insurance being extended to allow travel “against FCO advice” for the first time ever to a mass-market holiday destination. Rock Insurance received numerous requests for such a product, but initially, the insurance underwriters were reluctant to go against the UK Governments clear desire to stop overseas holiday this year. However, Airlines continue to fly to destinations against FCO advice and there is clearly a need for customers to be insured.
Some OTA’s are also taking the stance that FCO’s advice is just that “Advisory” and continuing to operate holidays to destinations like the Balearics and Canaries, which statistically have lower R rates than many parts of the UK.
I understand the Governments desire to prevent the creations of a second Covid-19 spike in the UK from returning holidaymakers, but think it’s highly hypercritical to take a regional approach to lockdown measures in the UK, but insist on blanket 14-day Quarantines across the whole of Spain when the Balearics and Canaries as separate Islands clearly have Covid-19 under control. Unfortunately, politicians don’t like admitting to having made mistakes and we will have to wait a few more weeks before the Government quietly adds these destinations back to the Green list, even though absolutely nothing will have changed.
It is the “Fear of Quarantine” that its likely to do the most damage to the UK travel industry, as I fear it will devastate forward bookings for Summer 21 in January.
If you’re a holidaymaker, why are you going to book early and take the risk that a destination will or will not be quarantined when your due to depart?
I think the best possible solution is for the Industry to implement a recognised and app certified “cross-industry” testing certificate that allows customers to leave quarantine after 5 days. This would require Airport testing, with a further test at home 4 days later. From my own investigations, it would appear that 30-minute airport testing is now available for as little as £15 per person and home testing or local pharmacy testing will shortly be rolled out. However, the scheme needs to be recognised by Government and therefore must be back by industry bodies like ABTA.
Instead of focusing on price this January, we need as an industry to focus on removing “Quarantine Fear” and providing booking flexibility that allows customers to move holiday destinations free of charge if they have any Covid-19 related fears.
Rather than wait for Government to act, we must apply self-help and move forward fast with a single industry solution that allows an effective alternative to the killer 14-day Quarantine.