The UK’s largest high street travel retailer has confirmed it was not invited to contribute to the government’s Global Travel Taskforce, but described the decision as “understandable”.

Hays Travel chair Dame Irene Hays said the initial focus for the taskforce was to “get destinations open as quickly and safely as possible” with a focus on high-volume tour operators and airlines.

But she said she would hope to be invited to participate if the agenda was to move on to the reopening of the high street.

Speaking at last week’s Travel Weekly Future of Travel Spring Forum, Hays was asked if she felt her company should have had a seat at the table for the taskforce discussions.

She said: “I think it’s really depends on the nature of the agenda and it appears to me that the agenda is very heavily-weighted towards the asset-heavy tour companies, because they are the people who have been lobbying most.

“I’m not saying that that’s necessarily the way that it should have gone, but it’s understandable. They have a significant amount of capital tied up in their assets, that – other than property – travel agents do not. It appears to me that that is where the agenda is.”

Hays added: “I think that the government would be flexible enough if the agenda moved on from that, to the opening up of the high street and to the opening up of airports, that probably they would come back and invite us to be part of that.

“I don’t see that as the priority at the moment or where the policy focus is, I simply don’t. I think it’s to get destinations open as quickly and as safely as they possibly can and it’s my understanding that that’s what’s being talked about.”

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