The Scottish tourism industry has reacted with anger to comments from first minister Nicola Sturgeon advising against booking holidays overseas next month.
In her address to the Scottish parliament, the first minister said Scottish families should treat the autumn term holiday as an opportunity to limit social contact with others.
Speaking of the upcoming school holidays, she said: “Given that this is a global pandemic, please do not book travel overseas for the October break if it is not essential.”
The reaction was quick from industry insiders.
Mike Tibbert, vice president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, said: “The first minister’s comments in the Scottish parliament telling Scots not to book travel overseas for the October break if it is not essential were unnecessary, wholly gratuitous, and extremely damaging for the Scottish travel industry.
“This year has been catastrophic for travel agents and the entire travel sector and today’s comments could well be the final nail in its coffin.
“It is utterly short-sighted to consider that this story ends with our members having had no 2020 income, but the stark facts are that, without immediate and targeted stimulus for the travel sector, Scotland will lose its global connectivity as airlines cut routes.
“This no idle warning – it is probable, that loss of connections would cause irreversible long-term damage to our whole economy.”
He added: “It’s becoming ever clearer that our entire travel sector – and consequently our economy – is in real and immediate jeopardy.
“This is absolutely no exaggeration, yet there appears to be no support either at ground or strategic level to prevent this. Indeed, we seem to have government announcements actively designed to destroy travel jobs and the whole industry when there are destinations which it is safe to travel to such as Turkey.”
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, also questions what measures were in place for those now considering cancelling holidays.
He explained: “While the advice for people in Scotland not to book holidays abroad over the October break may be sensible to prevent further spread of the virus, it does not help those who have already booked a holiday, many of whom will have done so several months ago.
“These people face losing out as airlines remain free to ignore the advice and pocket customers’ money.
“There cannot be one rule for holidaymakers and another for airlines.
“If people are being asked not to travel, then airlines should be made to provide rebooking at no additional cost or refund options to their customers, to prevent them from being left out of pocket or putting public health at risk by taking a holiday they can’t afford to cancel.”
Image: Jane Barlow/PA Wire/PA Images
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