The industry must ensure it leaves no room for doubt about its commitment to safety as it lobbies for change to government measures, says editor-in-chief Lucy Huxley

Three months ago, Abta chairman Alistair Rowland appeared on the front cover of Travel Weekly alongside the headline ‘Safety First’.

Rowland’s message then, as the crisis began to bite in earnest, was that the industry must not be seen to be putting commercial interests ahead of the health of customers.

While the idea of any travel company being able to generate profits to put before people is effectively moot in the current circumstances, the underlying point holds true.

The threat posed to our industry by this pandemic gets more acute by the day, as do the stark warnings of the potential ramifications if the government sticks rigidly to the ‘blunt instrument’ of blanket quarantine in tandem with FCO advice against all-but-essential travel.

But if trust and goodwill towards the travel, tourism and hospitality industries is to be retained, companies and associations must continue to ensure that there is no room for doubt that the safety of customers and employees remains their principal priority even as they lobby for change.

The growing cross-party political support for the industry’s standpoint this week has certainly been welcome in that respect, and has increased hopes that some nuance could soon be added to measures which in their current form effectively place a stop sign not just on imminent travel, but on future plans as well.

The government has confirmed it won’t be making a complete U-turn, but everyone in the industry at home and abroad will be hoping the current blanket approach will quickly be replaced by measures that prioritise safety while allowing the industry to start the long process of rebuilding.

Comment from Travel Weekly June 4 edition