National Travel Day of Action: Leeds holiday businesses call for Government to safely reopen travel for the sake of livelihoods
One Leeds rental holiday business is joining a National Day of Action to call on the Government to safely reopen travel - while another business owner has had to start a new job over the pandemic.
Kalkan Magic - run by Leeds couple, Sue and Sean Flynn based in Roundhay - is taking part in the Travel Day of Action today (June 23) to highlight the ongoing challenges facing the sector, and the risks to businesses and livelihoods.
Sue and Sean will be taking part in a 'Twitter storm' to raise awareness of the plight of the sector.
The Travel Day of Action is a pan-industry event – bringing together people and businesses from across the aviation and travel industries - including those who operate and organise overseas and inbound holidays, visits to family and friends and business trips abroad.
Sue and Sean Flynn established their holiday rental business, www.kalkanmagic.com in 2005.
Their company lets a number of bespoke holiday properties in the picturesque harbour village of Kalkan on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast.
Turkey is currently on the red list but since it received its red status, the country has reduced its Covid rates substantially and vastly increased its vaccination rates.
Sue Flynn said: “After rolling over many of last year’s guests to this year because of travel restrictions, it was not expected that the same would have to be repeated for 2021. Our guests are as frustrated as we are. It is just very upsetting for everyone.”
Without a meaningful summer season – a crucial period of the year for travel businesses – many thousands of livelihoods are at stake, as well as the ability of the travel sector to recover and reconnect the UK to the world.
Sue pleaded with the Government to "urgently help" their business.
She added: "Travel businesses have suffered more than many companies in this crisis.
"International travel has been severely restricted for almost 18 months now and, while other businesses have been opening their doors in recent weeks, the Government has been telling people not to travel.
"We desperately need the Government to safely open up overseas travel. In fact, the situation is beyond desperate.
"We need the Government to urgently help us.”
Jodie Harris, from north Leeds, owns a Travel Counsellors franchise business but has had to find new work since the pandemic.
While she is not taking part in the Day of Action, she fully supports the calls to reopen the industry for the sake of her livelihood and so people can see family and friends abroad - but safety is her priority.
Jodie said: "In all honesty I've had to start a new business and most of my colleagues have had to get other jobs as well.
"It went from potentially being my best year ever in January 2020 to rebooking and cancelling at my own expense.
"A lot of customers were refunded their money which I wanted for them if they didn't travel but that meant I had to repay my commissions.
"I now owe money and am in debt now because of their cancelled travel plans falling on me.
"Every bit of work thereafter has been at my expense because it's all extra admin that was never accounted for.
"It's not just about holidays and for a lot of people, including me, it's about going abroad to see family - but it has to be safe."
Vincent Hodder, CEO of Leeds Bradford Airport, said aviation had been impacted "on a global scale" due to the pandemic.
Mr Hodder added: “The Government’s approach is impairing our ability to meaningfully reopen aviation in the UK and our ability to reach sustainable volumes of customers. Travel can be safely reopened using the Government’s framework - other countries have done this. The UK is falling behind.
"Many other closed sectors that have now been able to reopen have benefited from enhanced support beyond the job retention scheme over the last year. In the short term, aviation also needs that support to sustain cash flow and protect jobs, as well as greater certainty for our passengers on their ability to travel without restrictions.
“We must not lose sight of the role that aviation will play in the Government’s levelling up agenda and how buoyancy in aviation can aid regional economic recoveries, now and in the future, as well as for our long term connectivity.”
Airport Operators Association Chief Executive Karen Dee said:
“The Government’s overly cautious approach to reopening travel has real-world consequences for the 1.6m jobs in the UK aviation and tourism industries that rely on aviation having a meaningful restart.
“Unless the Government makes a meaningful restart of aviation possible by extending the green list at the next review, moving to rapid and affordable tests for returning travellers and following the examples of the EU and the US by reducing restrictions on fully vaccinated passengers, aviation and travel are in for an extremely difficult summer.
“If the Government decides it cannot reopen travel more meaningfully, then they should stand ready to give substantial financial compensation to airports and others in aviation and tourism.
“Jobs and livelihoods in businesses across the economy that need air connectivity for their success are at risk. The Government cannot afford to let those go.”