A woman who has had four holidays cancelled during the pandemic has finally given up trying to get away as the travel industry despairs about uncertainty amid next week’s Freedom Day being delayed.
On Monday, Boris Johnson slammed the brakes on the lockdown easing by pushing back Freedom Day on June 21 by four weeks until July 19.
It prolongs the uncertainty of the past 14 months as Rosie Dodds, from west Oxfordshire, has missed out on three overseas and one domestic trip.
On one occasion she actually got to the airport only to be told that the government had cancelled all non-essential flights.
Another time a dream getaway was scuppered when a travel firm folded under the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Most recently a domestic cruise the 34-year-old had been looking forward to was scrapped due to issues with social distancing onboard, Rosie said.
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More than £1,000 out of pocket and stuck at home for the foreseeable future, the Midcounties Co-op worker has decided to give up on taking a holiday.
“I’m unwilling to book anything abroad in case it gets cancelled, ad I can’t pick and choose my holiday dates as I’m working,” Rosie told The Mirror.
“I haven’t booked anything for next year or later on this year. I don’t see the sense.”
Rosie’s holiday plans have been ruined by a combination of factors, all of which are rooted in the pandemic.
She continued: “In March 2020 I was going to Gran Canaria, but we got to the airport and Jet2 told us to go home.
“The coronavirus was just starting to take hold. I didn’t get to check in. I got a full refund from Jet2 for both trips but it was cancelled on the government’s ‘no holidays unless vital’ rules.
“In April 2020 I was supposed to go Thailand but then STA Travel folded. My mum and I haven’t sorted out how to get the money back.
“In March 2021 I was supposed to go to Iceland but that got cancelled, and in May I was supposed to go from Liverpool to Weymouth.
“I think it was (cancelled) because in the lower mess you can’t socially distance. The bunks are quite close together.”
Despite waiting over a year for a refund of more than £1,000, Rosie does not lay too much blame at the government’s door.
“If cases are low enough then countries should be on the green list,” she said.
“India should have been on the red list from the start of the year. I’m not sure what else the government can do.”
One person who is less impressed with how the travel situation has been handled over the past year is Richard Slater, who runs independent agency Henbury Travel in Cheshire.
He takes issue with the government’s restart grant scheme, which entitles “non-essential” travel agents to a one-off grant of between £2,667 and £6,000 from their local authority, while gyms, hairdressers and pubs can get between £8,000 and £18,000.
“Everyone needs a grant but it should have been a level playing feel,” he told The Mirror, before explaining cash flow issues that are impacting the industry.
“Their justification is we have been able to trade throughout, but deposits (we get for holidays) go into ATOL protected schemes.
“We don’t get money until just before departures. We really have been treated badly.”
Another travel agent owner, who has asked to remain anonymous, has told of the immense emotional pressure people in the industry are finding themselves under.
Despite taking in minimal revenue – which means she had to furlough most of her staff – the business owner has to continue working over the summer to ensure cancelled and changed holidays are dealt with.
“”e can’t furlough everybody because there is too much work to do,” she said.
“We lose one per cent immediately per booking and I don’t get that back. We’re a shop that’s open with nothing to sell.
“I won’t be able to pay my staff in September (when the furlough scheme ends), that will be the big point. How long can I survive with no money?
“Ministers saying don’t book abroad has taken all the consumer confidence away. The government’s handling of it has made it all worse. in effect.
“We’ve turned into volunteers because I’m not getting paid for the work I’m doing. You’re on the phone changing stuff that takes five hours. You think ‘how can I carry on?’
“It’s heartbreaking. Myself and my staff have taken to tears many times.”
This comes as yesterday Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed lockdown easing by pushing back Freedom Day by four weeks.
While the PM was not drawn specifically on how this would impact the travel industry, for domestic trips stays away will be limited to six people or two households in self-catered homes until July 19.
Many in the travel industry believe that the decision to delay unlocking means there is less chance of more countries being added to the green travel list.
Ministers are said to have been briefing that overseas travel at scale will not be allowed to happen before the end of July, the Independent reports.
“This ties in with a likelihood of delay to England lockdown easing until 19 July, with travel assessed after that,” Paul Charles, chief executive of the travel consultancy The PC Agency, told the publication.