Hundreds of agents are preparing to support the Travel Day of Action on June 23 to lobby for a safe restart of international travel.
Some plan to shut stores to attend events in London, Edinburgh and Belfast for the Save Future Travel Coalition-led day of action across travel and aviation.
Industry staff are encouraged to set up meetings with MPs at official events, locally or virtually, and support the day on social media, tagging MPs and sharing posts.
The Travel Day of Action takes place days before the next review of the traffic light system for overseas travel on June 28.
The Travel Network Group has at least 100 members registered to go to Westminster; Advantage Travel Partnership reported a “really positive” response from agents wishing to take part; and The Specialist Travel Association (Aito) said members UK-wide were keen to attend.
The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association is expecting more than 250 representatives from agencies, airlines and airports at Holyrood. President Joanne Dooey said members would be “out in force”.
World Travel Lounge, an agency in northwest England, is to close all seven of its branches for the day and has laid on a coach to London for 40 employees. Staff will take beach towels instead of banners to wave at the protest. Director David McDonald said: “This is so important. We have to make our voices heard.”
Those going to Westminster must register in advance due to Covid limits. Up to 800 will be allowed on College Green in two 400-person slots, the first from 12.30pm.
Jill Waite, co-founder of agent action group Target, said: “It’s the only chance to get our voice out.”
A Target poll found members attending events would most like to hear from “a real travel agent”, followed by former prime minister Theresa May, who has recently spoken in support of the industry .
Aito head of commercial Bharat Gadhoke hopes the day will attract mainstream media attention. He added: “Last year we would have been heckled, but this year consumer sentiment is more on our side.”
The Travel Network Group chief executive Gary Lewis said: “The Travel Day of Action has been organised in response to the latest announcement from the government which effectively cancelled travel for the foreseeable future and went against the expectations set in the Global Travel Taskforce report. We are asking Members of Parliament to join the events on 23rd June, meet with travel businesses from their constituencies and speak up for travel.
“Until people can travel freely, and the travel industry is able to get back on its feet, we need the government to provide direct financial sector-specific support which we have been calling for since summer 2020.”
Sheffield-based Kosmar is joining the co-ordinated day of action and lobbying local MP Paul Blomfield in advance.
Chief executive Jhy Worsnop-Hesford said: “We urge anyone who feels passionate about the cause, other travel businesses in our local community and wider outbound travel industry to get behind the day of action, whether that be writing to your MP or sharing our message on social media.
“Our business has been dealt blow after blow since this pandemic began. These past 14 months, we have worked tirelessly on behalf of our customers, dealing with a large number of amendments, cancellations and refunds, all whilst working on a reduced workforce and a dramatic drop in income. We hope that the government takes notice of the day of action and acts on the industry’s demands before further damage is done”.
Travel day of action
How to get involved on June 23
- Attend an organised lobby event. Consult your agency consortium to register for Westminster, London; the SPAA for Holyrood, Edinburgh; and the Association of Northern Ireland Travel Agents for Belfast
- Arrange a meeting with your MP, in person or virtually on the day. Email Abta with any meetings arranged at the London event
- Write to your MP using a templated email provided by Abta
- Follow #traveldayofaction on social media
- Take part in a Twitterstorm
- Tag your MP or devolved representative into social posts about the day
- Share template posts and graphics on social media
- Find out more at: abta.com/traveldayofaction