A woman who had four vacations canceled during the pandemic has finally given up on trying to escape as the travel industry despairs of uncertainty amid next week’s Freedom Day postponement.
On Monday, Boris Johnson put the brakes on the easing of the lockdown by postponing Freedom Day on June 21 by four weeks until July 19.
This extends the uncertainty of the past 14 months as Rosie Dodds, from west Oxfordshire, has missed three overseas trips and one domestic trip.
On one occasion, she went to the airport to be told that the government had canceled all non-essential flights.
Another time, a dream getaway was shattered when a travel company closed under the uncertainty of the pandemic.
More recently, a national cruise the 34-year-old had been eagerly awaiting was scrapped due to social distancing issues on board, Rosie said.
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Over £ 1,000 out of pocket and stuck at home for the foreseeable future, the Midcounties Co-op worker has decided to forgo taking a vacation.
“I am not willing to book anything overseas in case it is canceled, and I cannot choose my vacation dates while working,” Rosie told the Mirror.
“I haven’t booked anything for next year or later this year. I don’t see the meaning.”
Rosie’s vacation plans have been ruined by a combination of factors, all 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 set in. I was unable to check in. I received a full refund from Jet2 for both trips, but it was canceled under government ‘no vacation except so vital ”
“In April 2020, I was due to go to Thailand, but STA Travel closed its doors. My mother and I couldn’t figure out how to get the money back.
“In March 2021 I was supposed to go to Iceland but that was canceled, and in May I was supposed to go from Liverpool to Weymouth.
“I think it was (canceled) because in the lower mess you can’t socially distance yourself. The bunks are pretty close to each other.”
Although she has waited over a year for a refund of over £ 1,000, Rosie doesn’t blame the government door too much.
“If the cases are low enough, countries should be on the green list,” she said.
“India should have been on the red list since the start of the year. I don’t know what else the government can do.”
One person who is less impressed with the way the travel situation has been handled over the past year is Richard Slater, who runs the independent agency Henbury Travel in Cheshire.
He takes issue with the government restart grant scheme, which gives ‘non-essential’ travel agents the right to a one-time 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 fair game feeling,” he told the Mirror, before explaining the cash flow issues impacting the industry.
“Their rationale is that we were able to trade all along, but the deposits (which we get for the holidays) go into programs protected by ATOL.
“We only get money right before departure. We were really treated badly.”
Another travel agent owner, who asked to remain anonymous, spoke of the immense emotional pressure people in the industry are under.
Despite minimal earnings – which means she has had to put most of her staff on leave – the business owner must continue to work through the summer to ensure that canceled and amended vacations are processed.
“We cannot put everyone on leave because there is too much work to do,” she said.
“We immediately lose one percent per reservation and I don’t get it back. We’re an open store with nothing to sell.
“I won’t be able to pay my staff in September (when the leave plan ends), that will be the big point. How long can I survive without money?
“Ministers saying they don’t book overseas have taken away all consumer confidence. The way the government has handled the situation has made it worse.
“We became volunteers because I don’t get paid for the work I do. You’re on the phone to change stuff that takes five hours. You think “how can I continue? “
“It’s heartbreaking. My team and I have cried a few times.”
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday delayed the easing of the lockdown by pushing Freedom Day back for four weeks.
While the PM was not specifically drawn to the impact this would have on the travel industry, for domestic travel, stays outside will be limited to six people or two households in detached houses until to July 19.
Many in the travel industry believe the decision to delay unlocking means there is less chance of more countries being added to the green travel list.
The ministers reportedly informed that large-scale overseas travel would not be permitted until the end of July, the Independent reports.
“This is linked to a likelihood of delaying the easing of England’s lockdown until July 19, with travel being assessed after that,” Paul Charles, managing director of travel consultancy The PC Agency.