Agent tells PM and key ministers of ‘heart-breaking’ trade plight

This article contains comments which may be upsetting for some readers

The agent who runs the Travel Agent Rants and Raves closed Facebook group has sent the prime minister and other key politicians a snapshot of the “heart-breaking” comments posted on the group during a single day.

Jenny Jackson, of Luxury Travel Gurus, compiled anonymised comments from July 14 and emailed them with a letter to Boris Johnson, chancellor Rishi Sunak, transport secretary Grant Shapps, health secretary Sajid Javid, Labour leader Keir Starmer and her local MP, Ellie Reeves, the Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge.

She has received confirmation that her email has been received by Johnson, Sunak, Javid and Reeves.

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Jackson, of Luxury Travel Gurus, said: “Every day members post about how they are feeling and it is heart-breaking, with so many of us at breaking point.

“I can no longer sit back and watch agents pouring their hearts out day after day and felt it was time to act.

Her letter to the politicians said: “You have no idea the damage and heartbreak hundreds of thousands of us are going through.

“We have been totally forgotten, we are the ONLY industry that has handed back billions to our customers, and still not been able to restart our businesses due to the constant changes of the traffic light system that is not working.

“We are being held to ransom by our government, which is slowly destroying the UK travel industry.”

Posts and comments from July 14 included:

“I’m sorry for the negative post but I feel desperate today. I’m really struggling to stay positive and upbeat. Mentally and financially I feel like I’ve reached rock bottom and have lost any fight I had. I’m so tired and all I want is to go to sleep and wake up when this is over. When do I give up? I feel like the government have washed their hands of us, I can’t see a way forward. Please someone shake me out of this.”

“I’ve felt like this so many times in the past three months, I had a period where I actually took three weeks out of working because I just couldn’t do it anymore. I contemplated quitting but then I realised we have survived so long now and fought every single day for the past 17 months, so why quit now and all that stress and upset be for nothing.”

“I have felt like this for some time, still clinging on by skin of teeth but it’s almost depression symptoms.”

“I took the last couple of months off and have not actively tried to make any bookings for the fear of having to go over them all again to get them changed/cancelled…again. With recent positive news, I decided to try again and the rules are changed again! It is so disheartening and of course our customers and the government, don’t realise we lose out financially each time a booking is cancelled.”

“The whole situation is affecting my sleep patterns and mood, I’ve been getting a lot of headaches and it’s all down to the stress of all of this. When will we get a break? But we’re all doing a bloody good job in terrible circumstances and we’re in it together.”

“After 40 years in travel I can’t imagine not doing it anymore, there’s inner strength in us all to get through this together and united. Hang in there better days will come.”

Please spare a thought for the person having to deal with the hundreds of enquiries daily, asking the same questions over and over. We are tired, we are broke and we are broken.

“Although I’m lucky to still be employed in this industry I’ve actually never hated it as much as I do right now. Despite my 33 years’ experience I feel totally out of my depth I don’t feel like I fully understand the rules around travel right now. I dread customers walking through the door asking what they need to do to go on holiday. I’m reluctant to book anything that might change colour whilst they are away and them have to return early.”

“It is the same for us working for tour operators too, particularly us smaller ones. Sleepless nights until that customer has returned without incident is a thing of 2021 travel for us all, so totally understand that deflated confidence, but it will return and ultimately when you are feeling low, just reach out to someone, whether that be a friend or family or if they do not quite understand, the travel industry family.”

“I’ve been in the industry nearly 37 years, and I also worry whether I’m giving customers the most up to date info. I always ask my customers to check themselves and will even double and triple check for them.”

The whole industry has taken such a beating from all angles and it feels as though we’re in a worse position now than we were a year ago. I have ‘quitting’ weeks and ‘fighting’ weeks, so far this week is a ‘fighting’ week.

“I’ve been in the industry 40 years this month and I feel like a YTS trainee at the moment, constantly on edge and worried about giving out the wrong information.”

“We are the most resilient people in any industry and I have said this many a time, after all the pandemics, ash clouds, terrorism, hurricanes and tsunamis we get through anything (a little frazzled) our lives have been turned on their head and there is no easy way out…if they don’t want people to travel they then we need support not to be kicked when we are down.”

• If you, or someone you know, is affected by a mental health problem, help and support is available. Call Samaritans free of charge on 116 123

Abta Lifeline also offers mental health support, click here for details.

More: Trade demands detail after PM agrees to end amber list country travel curbs

Johnson pledges to retain ‘tough Covid policy at our borders’

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