Comment: Let’s hope it’s not a winter of discontent

Travel Weekly’s Lucy Huxley addresses two sobering issues as the winter season approaches

We are forced to address two sobering issues this week despite the overwhelmingly robust good health of the sector as we enter the winter season this weekend.

With Israel’s war on Hamas and the unfolding tragedy in the region continuing to dominate the news, it seems inevitable the travel industry will feel some effect.

Already agents have reported seeing some holidaymakers opt to avoid parts of the eastern Mediterranean, in particular Egypt, which borders southwest Israel, but also Cyprus.

The degree to which the conflict might spread remains unclear and the duration and impacts unknown. Tour operators must simply continue to monitor the situation closely and respond to any change in Foreign Office travel advice, without which there are unlikely to be wholesale changes to existing bookings.

Most agents and operators appear sanguine: the trade has ridden out plenty of crises and proved resilient. But there will be nagging doubts given the recent history of the Middle East and, with the problems caused by Covid still in the public’s mind, the trade should be prepared for increased wariness about travel to the region, especially if the conflict intensifies and widens.

For some in the trade, problems closer to home will be pressing this winter as the cost of living continues to bear down on cash-strapped households. The Abta LifeLine announcement that it expects increased applications for aid from those in work this winter shows just how close to the edge many are currently living. It’s important that as an industry we ensure support for those who need it, backing Abta LifeLine’s appeal and efforts to extend its reach.

Comment originally from Travel Weekly, October 26 edition

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