The logistics of selling holidays to the Maldives and Canaries is still “horrendously complicated”, despite the announcement of travel corridors to both sets of islands, according to the boss of Kuoni.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast following news that Brits travelling to both destinations would no longer have to quarantine for 14 days on their return to the UK, Derek Jones, CEO of Kuoni parent, Der Touristik, said: “I’ve been at a two-and-a-half-hour operations and sales meeting this morning, working out the logistics of all of this. And it is still horrendously complicated.
“If you fly on the BA direct flight, and back to the UK, you don’t need to quarantine and obviously Foreign Office advice has shifted. If you take any other routing, you do still get caught with quarantine on your return. So if you come back through Dubai, for example, on Emirates, you still have to quarantine and we’re trying to clarify Foreign Office advice for a transit in Dubai, as to whether you’re in breach of Foreign Office advice. If you transit Dubai, we think you are, in which case you probably have some insurance implications,” he said.
“So there’s still a hundred and one operational challenges with all of this.”
Alan Cross, head of trade at Jet2holidays, said the operator was still trying to get clarification from the UK and Canary Islands governments about the entry and exit requirements.
“At this moment in time, we are just clarifying with the UK government and the Canarian government, what the entry and exit requirements are. So keep checking our website for information related to that,” he said.
“Of course, people do need to complete a personal form when exiting the UK with their details, for entry in case anything happens when they are out there and that must be completed within 48 hours, but we are just clarifying everything.”
Both Jones and Cross said the complexity played into the hands of travel agents to help customers through the confusion.
Agents more important than ever
Jones said: “The challenge we’ve got, and travel agents have got, which we’re well placed for, is we have to be there for our customers now and deal with this complexity. The role of travel intermediaries, particularly travel agents, has – more than ever – become about helping their customers to find their way through the challenges, because customers want to travel, we just need to facilitate it for them.”
Miles Morgan, chairman of Miles Morgan Travel, agreed: “It’s funny, I’ve probably spent 14 years trying to educate customers that there’s value in a travel agent. And it’s taken seven months of a pandemic for people to realize ‘bloody hell! That’s right, there really is’. And Derek’s right, almost the more complex the booking and the more complex everything is, the more value there is in a travel agent.
“For a start, it’s challenging because it’s changing all the time, but even when you have a decision, when you’ve got somebody like Derek that’s struggling to get his head around what it means and what it doesn’t mean, looking for clarification himself, that shows how complex this is at the moment. And Alan, equally, looking for the same for the Canary Islands government, so it is quite challenging.”
But Morgan said it was the responsibility of every agent to step up and get on top of everything.
“It is up to every individual agency to upskill and get their people right on it in terms of what’s going on. If you can put yourself in a space that you are the true expert, and that’s what we clearly try and position ourselves as being, it’s obvious people will come to you and come to you in large numbers,” he said.