Industry associations hit back at criticism over quarantine

Industry associations representing businesses across the outbound, inbound, corporate and leisure sectors have rejected claims the industry has been poorly represented to government during the Covid-19 crisis.

Abta director of financial protection and financial services John de Vial said: “It’s very easy to stand on a soapbox and make a lot of noise about a single issue.”

UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft said: “So many in the industry have divergent and competing interests.”

De Vial, Croft and Business Travel Association chief executive Clive Wratten were responding to criticism following the success in lobbying the government of the Quash Quarantine campaign of travel and hospitality businesses.

The campaign was set up and led by George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of tour operator Red Savannah.

Paul Charles, spokesman of the campaign group, recently asked: “How on earth did the travel industry find itself in a situation where quarantine measures were even considered?”

Writing in Travel Weekly, he said: “Lobbying groups and firms who have a seat at the government table during regular meetings should have prevented the quarantine measures being introduced in the first place.

“At some point, there should be an inquiry into why things went so badly wrong. The 500 travel and hospitality firms and individuals who signed up to Quash Quarantine have had far more impact.”

But speaking on an Elman Wall Covid-19 webinar, de Vial said: “Speaking with one voice is a challenge in our industry. We understand that better than anyone [at Abta].

“There are very few issues on which everyone agrees. People have very different interests.

“It’s much easier to be vocal on a single issue. When you have to work with government behind the scenes on all the issues, sometimes for years, it means you’re not able to shout. That is frustrating.”

De Vial insisted: “I don’t say this about George [Morgan-Grenville], but it is very easy to stand on a soapbox and make a lot of noise about a single issue.”

Business Travel Association chief executive Clive Wratten agreed, saying: “I don’t believe one voice is the way forward for the industry. What’s needed is a coordinated approach.

“George did a great job, [but] working with government does take a different approach. This is an inexperienced government scrabbling around and learning on the job.

UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft told the webinar: “We’re the inbound trade association, but not all [inbound] tour operators are members. We’re the voice of inbound tourism, but a lot of businesses in a normal year would not value that enough to pay for it.”

He added: “We’re a fragmented industry – so many in the industry have divergent and, on occasion, competing interests.”

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