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Comment: Let’s follow the facts and return to normal, now

Internova Travel Group chairman Mike Batt on why the company is backing a legal challenge to government

It’s been a terrible year for the world and, without wishing to sound selfish about things, it’s been even worse for those of us who have our lives and families wrapped up in the travel business.

In addition to dealing with personal and family fears around the virus, we have also had to deal with the economic catastrophe that, frankly, has been inflicted on us in the name of health and safety.

Literally millions of people have lost their jobs, millions more fear for the future and are suffering every day while governments continue to sit on their hands and seem perfectly comfortable stripping away the basic human right to travel with the flimsiest of arguments and vague references to data.

At the same time, by constantly flip-flopping policy, government has created huge confusion and inflicted even more economic pain on the travel industry and our customers with no real regard for the consequences.

Policy is supposedly justified by science but discourse is both discouraged and barely reported.

The data used to drive these decisions is shrouded in mystery and, despite repeated requests from public and private businesses, has yet to be published in full.

The UK public has been put under house arrest for the past year and people will now pay a hefty price.

First, in terms of early deaths of those with untreated life-threatening conditions; secondly, the incredible levels of debt that the pandemic has caused which will see our children repaying this for decades to come; thirdly, suffering from the catastrophic economic impact on retail, travel and hospitality and finally, the long-term damage to our children whose education should have been a far more pressing priority. So – were the lockdowns worth it?

Unfortunately, the facts we have available seem to contradict the policies of the UK government. Those living in Florida and Texas have been free to enjoy a normal life since June 2020. Both states are absolutely booming – from an economic and health perspective. Interestingly, the death rate per 100,000 people in Florida is 174, Texas 179 and the UK 191. All that pain and destruction for a third-rate result. If nothing else, given the levels of control of the virus in these states, why does the UK government still insist on keeping destinations like these on its so-called amber list?

Florida and Texas avoided lockdowns and both states allowed doctors to be proactive by prescribing early treatment options rather than the reactive approach of the UK which advised people to only seek medical assistance when they couldn’t breathe.

Many prominent doctors have testified under oath regarding the efficacy of these treatments however for some reason these cost-effective and widely-used treatments have been totally ignored.

The UK has rejected the use of these basic drugs but, as a British citizen who has seen the positive impact first-hand in Florida, I simply can’t understand why the UK is turning a blind eye to possible solutions.

Irrespective of the medical and scientific debate, the UK government has fundamentally let our industry down.

We haven’t received anything close to an appropriate level of financial support and it has reneged on its commitment to reopening international travel as per recommendations from the Global Travel Taskforce.

The traffic light system – which was defunct before it even really got going – is clearly not fit for purpose and needs urgent attention.

The hundreds of thousands of travellers set to head abroad this summer should not have any more plans disrupted and should not continue to find themselves at the beck and call of a government that believes a family of four can change their plans overnight and find thousands of pounds for a repatriation flight. What planet does the government live on?

The government has all but destroyed the travel industry and worse still, taken away the freedom to travel from its people. Enough is enough – restore basic rights, let us travel again, rebuild our industry and restore the livelihoods of our colleagues.

This is why our team at Internova Travel Group – both in the UK and the US – are standing behind Clive Jacobs’ legal challenge as we firmly believe that the UK travel industry and more importantly the people of the UK deserve a positive and more logical approach to international travel.

Urgent action is now required to allow the UK travel industry to plan for a safe and sustainable recovery and treat our customers with the respect they deserve.

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