Smaller journey companies will fold if individuals cannot e book holidays quickly: professional
Smaller tour operators in Northern Ireland will collapse if sun-seekers can’t book vacations soon, it was alleged.
Co Antrim-based Ravel consultant David Coulter warned that smaller agencies simply couldn’t survive another summer of disruption.
He spoke after Michelle O’Neill warned it was too early to think about booking summer vacation.
The Deputy First Minister commented on the fact that the number of public holidays in England had shot up 600% following the Prime Minister’s exit plan earlier this week.
Sinn Fein vice chairman warned those looking forward to a week in the sun to stay cautious. “What Boris Johnson is announcing is obviously relevant to what is happening in England,” said Ms. O’Neill.
“It’s not relevant to our own plan. I don’t think I could stand here today and tell people it’s okay, go and book your vacation. You can’t give them the comfort that they need.” . “
Mr Coulter said Ms. O’Neill’s comments were elusive for the broader travel agency industry here.
“I think one of the most annoying things for the industry is that politicians in Northern Ireland, the UK and elsewhere just don’t understand how our industry works,” he said. “We need these holidays to operate. Many people’s jobs would be at stake, especially with airlines.
“I traveled a few times myself last year and was on a plane and saw everything they had in place for testing, wearing the masks and disinfecting – it was one of the safest places that one could have been. “
He said another summer of uncertainty was “very harmful”.
“I would imagine the bigger businesses could survive, but like the smaller operators would survive a second summer with no income … obviously they had bookings right now but if they were canceled again we’d probably see some smaller businesses work out . “
However, he accepted that it is difficult for politicians to make it clear when the holidays can resume.
“I can understand where she’s coming from. A lot of people ask me every day when the vacation will start again and we don’t know,” he added.
“Lots of people in England – I book lots of people from England – who, based on what Boris said, think May 17th is a restart date, but there is no guarantee that it will.
“I think people want something to look forward to and we’ve seen a massive surge in bookings – but it’s for the end of the year and mostly next year.
“So if someone came to me now to book a vacation for June, I’d tell them you can go a little later in the year.”
The executive had stated that Monday would be the key day for the release of the latest roadmap, but Ms. O’Neill admitted that the deadline may slip. “If it’s until Tuesday I think it’s more important as long as we get it right,” she said.
First Minister Arlene Foster said any plan would be announced “early next week”. Dr. Joanne Stuart, head of the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance, said it would be “very disappointing” if the 2021 holidays were canceled.
“Right now we are waiting for the Northern Ireland roadmap to be released, and I think at this point we just have to wait and see what is in it,” she said.
“And make sure there is clarity about the conditions that must be in place at each stage to reopen. Obviously, it would be very disappointing if the UK vaccination program goes as it is.” I can’t have a vacation in summer. “
Yesterday, the Department of Health announced that five more people in NI have died from coronavirus, bringing the total to 2,048 since the pandemic began.