A formidable force of UK travel companies, with pre-Covid-19 annual revenues of over £11 billion, are “united in outrage” following conflicting advice from the government on the reopening of the hospitality sector.
In response, they have created a new group – Save Our Summer – to reassure consumers they can book 2021 holidays with confidence.
The action group, which is telling consumers to ignore ministers’ “don’t book” travel advice, is supported by travel firms large and small who have guaranteed that anyone booking through them will be entitled to either a refund or a change of date for their holiday if travel is cancelled or not possible due to government Covid-19 restrictions.
Save Our Summer, or SOS Travel, also urges prime minister, Boris Johnson, to set out a very clear roadmap for opening up the travel sector, for staycations and overseas trips, from May 1st.
All vulnerable groups in the UK should have been vaccinated twice by mid-May, leading to reduced Covid-19 pressure on the NHS.
Covid-19 infection and mortality rates should also be at low levels therefore meaning that travel can responsibly re-open.
Without a target date for the re-opening of overseas travel, consumers will continue to hold off booking due to lack of confidence and up to 2.4 million travel and tourism jobs in the UK could be lost, according to data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Paul Charles, chief executive of the PC Agency and co-founder of Save Our Summer, said: “Give us all a break Boris.
“The industry is united in outrage.
“Senior government ministers have done a good job of torpedoing recovery in the travel sector and threatening jobs across travel and tourism.
“UK citizens should ignore their conflicting advice and book summer trips with confidence, knowing that they can get a refund or refix their travel dates if booking through a reputable travel provider signed up to SOS.”
Save Our Summer is also calling for damaging quarantine measures to be lifted by May and replaced with a more extensive testing programme, with rapid testing on arrival and departure if needed.
Over 120 SOS Travel supporters currently include Trailfinders, easyJet Holidays, Travelopia, Mr & Mrs Smith, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, DialAFlight, Sykes Holiday Cottages, Audley Travel, True Travel, Wild Frontiers, &Beyond Group, Elegant Resorts, Campbell Gray Hotels, Celebrity Cruises, Steppes Travel, YourGolfTravel, Ski Solutions, the Turquoise Holiday Company, Teletext Holidays, Plan South America, Oxford Ski, the Thinking Traveller, Bellini Travel and True Luxury Sport.
Also on board are chef Jason Atherton of the Social Company and Kevin Pietersen, former England cricketer and safari lodge owner.