The second instalment of National Travel Agent Day UK is “more important than ever”, according to organisers Intrepid Travel.
The adventure tour operator has centred the day, on July 23, around fundraising for those in the trade who have fallen on hard times during the pandemic, with money raised for Abta Lifeline and the ITAA Benevolent Fund in Ireland.
Zina Bencheikh, managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Intrepid Group, told Travel Weekly how the UK event in particular was “far more important than ever” in 2021.
She said: “We have offices in the US, for example, where it almost looks like things are back to normal and travel is possible again but here in the UK it’s absolutely not the case.
“Travel agents have been probably had more difficult times because of the fact they had to deal with customers all the way through in terms of repatriating, then refunding and then booking and revoking for the third time for some – and they haven’t got financial support, or enough.
“Sometimes it’s been quite difficult to hear some of the comments made by some of the authorities and people from the government. So it’s important we recognise that this day this year is even more important and why we want the industry to come and be united behind and have fun and celebrate.”
Bencheikh said fundraising was “at the heart” of this year’s event, having partnered with Abta Lifeline and the ITAA Benevolent Fund in Ireland to raise money for their work supporting agents who are struggling during the pandemic.
A fundraising page has been launched ahead of the day, and Intrepid is asking for donations in return for its staff completing a 24-hour cycle, with participants in the UK, Australia, Morocco and Peru among those taking part for an hour each.
A competition will take place, with eight spots on a UK fam trip Intrepid’s first fam since the pandemic, up for grabs. Places will be awarded to the agents who post the best pictures on the day on the Intrepid Loves Agents Facebook page.
Reflecting on the launch of the first National Travel Agent Day UK last year, she said: “We really realised that not only there was a need for one, but even more last year, as we were in the middle of the pandemic and travel agents were going through very difficult times.
She explained the day is designed to “unite the industry behind the travel agent community” to show them support, but also to have some fun” on the same day each year.
While the day is driven by Intrepid, Bencheikh stressed that all travel companies are urged to get involved. “We were really pleased to see that everyone came together. It was a very nice day of celebration last year.”
Last year’s events included quizzes, prizes, agent discounts on the Intrepid Loves Agents Facebook page, from the adventure operator and other suppliers, with companies posting videos to show their support for travel agents.