Organisers of Wednesday’s Travel Day of Action reported a “great turnout” in all four nations of the UK and support from politicians at the various lobbies.
Representatives from the lobbies in Westminster, London; Holyrood, Edinburgh; Stormont, Belfast; and a virtual lobby in Wales, joined a Travel Weekly webcast at the end of the day.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, and one of the main organisers of the four nations event, described the day at Westminster – where hundreds turned out at College Green – as “absolutely brilliant”.
“The whole purpose of today, right across the four nations was really about getting MPs, MSPs and MLAs along, making sure we all had the opportunities to influence their views, try to get them to really understand the plight the industry is facing and to really come together as a united front right across the sector.
“We had [cabin] crew, pilots, tour operators, travel agents, business travel agents. I was in London and it was just phenomenal; pretty emotional, pretty intense but fantastic to see the camaraderie, the spirit and fundamentally the MPs that came along were so grateful.
She said organisers had hope for more than the 25 MPs that attended Westminster, but stressed she was “thrilled they took the time after Prime Minister’s Questions to come along and speak to their constituents but also us.”
Damian Murphy, chairman of the Association of Northern Ireland Travel Agents (ANITA) said there was about 160 people at Stormont after attendance “escalated very quickly” and reported a “fantastic media turnout” from mainstream news along with a “great turnout of travel agents and tour operators” and nine MLAs in attendance.
“We were pleased,” he said. “The MLAs came out and came speeches to us all, they were happy to be interviewed and we had private meetings with us. We set out with the idea that it was a day to lobby and we’ve been doing it all week.”
Murphy said the event “far exceeded any expectations we had”.
Joanne Dooey, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, reported an “excellent turnout from all corners of the industry” with agents, outbound and inbound tour operators, and more than 50 pilots attending the lobby in Holyrood – as well as ‘15-20’ MSPs.
“We had lots of press coverage,” she said, explaining how speeches were allowed in Edinburgh, so various agents, operators and an MSP spoke to crowds who was “totally supportive of our plight”.
However, Dooey said she was disappointed that neither Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, or anyone from the Scottish National Party, attended.
Helen Tustin, who co-ordinated the virtual lobby in Wales, explained how an in-person event was not possible because the government owns the main airport in Cardiff.
She said students got involved in the online lobby, adding: “It’s not just about today it’s about taking this forward for the next three, five, six months”.