The speed of Covid vaccination programmes and the roadmap for easing lockdown had begun to give the business travel industry a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel but that light has gone out thanks to yet more ill-judged decisions by the UK Government. Business travel is an essential enabler of economic prosperity in this country, it is vital for trade, and it is also a very significant employer, but why does our government still not see that?
Jobs and businesses in the travel industry are being lost for ever. People’s livelihoods have been decimated. But the government has shamefully neglected the travel sector. If the only thing that the Travel Taskforce can come up with is the chaotic traffic light system, it’s no wonder our industry is saying enough is enough and is heading to Westminster on June 23 for the Travel Day of Action.
“Buyers are already describing situations where they are spending hours resolving travel pain-points themselves as their key account manager has been displaced”
The devastating impact of Covid-19 on the business travel supply chain is palpable for those working within it but what about the impact on corporate travel buyers? The long-term survival of TMCs, airlines and other business travel suppliers is essential for ITM’s buyer community. Travel managers are working hard to plan the safe resumption of travel; some corporates already have travellers restarting client-facing intra-Europe or domestic US travel. But buyers are increasingly concerned that their TMCs and other suppliers have suffered such severe staff losses they will no longer be able to provide sufficient levels of support as travel returns. Buyers are already describing situations where they are spending hours resolving travel pain-points themselves as their key account manager has been displaced.
We urgently need the Government to wake up and support our industry, not just by extending furlough for TMC and supplier staff but also to facilitate business travel with initiatives such as vaccine passports and air corridors on key business travel routes. Our buyer members need the business travel supply chain to survive, so that they know where to turn for vital support managing their travel programmes as travel resumes and for the long term.