Editor’s letter: Reasons to be cheerful, despite a tough budget

TWgroup editor Lucy HuxleyNobody is expecting a return to boom times in travel but there are reasons for cautious optimism, at least for the next few months.

While the emergency budget spelt out a staggering £113 billion squeeze, most people won’t feel it until next year. 

This means there will be an impact on discretionary spending, but not perhaps for this summer, suggesting the strong lates market we are all hoping for may well come good.

Against a backdrop of the worst global recession since the Second World War, this is heartening. In fact, some industry leaders were even describing their outlook as “bullish” this week.

But the mood will be quite the opposite for many long-haul destinations, which will be unhappy that planned increases in Air Passenger Duty are disappointingly going ahead.

One welcome rise this week, however, is the 50% pay increase announced by Flight Centre for agents on the lowest level. An extra £6,000 on starting salaries is an incredible commitment to staff and raises the bar for the rest of the industry.

As the company points out, offline businesses need to offer great knowledge and service to win bookings over their often cheaper web-based rivals – and that means attracting and keeping quality people, which doesn’t come cheap.

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