Comment: Government backing was bittersweet

The transport secretary’s pronouncement that customers could have full confidence to book their summer holiday felt hollow, says Travel Weekly editor-in-chief Lucy Huxley

The government’s confirmation last week that Atol protection on package holiday bookings extended to refund credit notes was a bittersweet moment for many.

The announcement and long-awaited CAA guidance was seen as vindication for those forced to create a scheme they acknowledged wasn’t perfect or desirable but was a potential lifeline for many in the industry facing a complete shutdown of business.

It will also have come as a huge relief for agents still trying to deal with customers’ refund concerns and frustrations and particularly those for whom the threat of chargebacks is now partially eased.

Yet the transport secretary’s bold pronouncement that customers could have full confidence to book their summer holiday still felt hollow given the lack of tangible backing the industry has received from the government – not to mention the erosion of trust and confidence the prolonged silence has exacerbated.

The rationale for the creation of refund credit notes in March was the desire to keep companies afloat and prevent the loss of thousands of jobs. But the failures of Cruise & Maritime Voyages and Fleetway Travel in the last 10 days, and the continuing stream of company restructures and redundancies, demonstrate that the future remains bleak for many.

While the travel, aviation and hospitality industries are far from alone in calling for tailored support, we can only hope that the transport secretary’s comments indicate that the parlous state and unique challenges of these linked sectors is finally being acknowledged at the highest level.

Comment from Travel Weekly, July 23 edition


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