The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) celebrated 100 years since its founding with the message that the “fear factor” around international travel must stop.
In front of an audience of 200 travel professionals at the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow, SPAA president, Joanne Dooey, appealed to the Scottish and UK governments to support a return to international travel.
Dooey said: “We need to see a return to international flying.
“The fear factor driven by people in power now needs to stop.
“We need to get Scotland back to business with safety protocols in place which are simple, and more importantly do not cost a fortune, to allow our industry to get back to some normality.
“We need to remove complexity and bring in simplicity with clear consistent communication and processes to support travel and not to hinder it or prevent it.”
It is widely accepted that the travel sector has been the worst hit industry by the pandemic, with passenger numbers falling to below ten per cent of previous years.
However, this statistic hides the true financial picture for the outbound travel sector.
With travel agents not receiving any income until the customer actually travels, agents were faced with refunding bookings made pre pandemic meaning that, once credit card refund charges are considered, agents have had negative income – and little tailored support – since autumn 2019.
The SPAA has been lobbying for Scots being demonising for going on holiday to cease, and for the Scottish government to get behind an industry which supports 26,000 jobs in Scotland and brings £1.5 billion to the economy annually.
Joanne added: “We need to trust in the vaccine and allow freedom of movement.”
The SPAA has continued, throughout the pandemic, to lobby for sectoral support for travel agents who have tirelessly worked to keep their customers travelling and their businesses afloat.
The SPAA centenary dinner was originally scheduled for February.
It is the oldest organisation representing travel agents in the world and currently has 120 member companies.