26 OCTOBER 2020

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Article from BTNews 26 OCTOBER 2020

COMMENT: Would you come to England?

Or Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for that matter?

A Minister for Travel Wanted.

It was fairly obvious (and from day one) that the Government’s idea of allowing UK border crossing from overseas followed by quarantine would not work (except perhaps for travel corridors).  

The industry has had to take the initiative.  With the new Heathrow procedures, we can, and are, putting people on aircraft free of the Covid-19 pandemic.  A step in the right direction.

Air travel is down by 80%, or as Loganair’s Chief Executive Johnathan Hinkles put it elegantly (or not so elegantly) at last week’s Aviation 2050 Conference “we are going bust”, or soon will.  John Holland-Kaye summed up the situation in financial terms when speaking to the Aviation Club. 
His ominous words are worth reading again.

Who is going to come to the UK and then face 14 days in solitude?

Nobody.

An IATA survey says that 83% will not fly if they have to quarantine.

The Government has a vital need to encourage people onto aircraft and see what Great Britain has to offer.  Yes, number one, it requires to make the country safe but resources are needed and plans introduced to get people inbound into the air (and by sea and rail too) now (in fact for tomorrow).

Foresight is required.  The world requires to know that the UK is open for business.

We need a Minister for Travel?  

The devolved governments have ministers for Tourism and there is a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage) one Nigel Huddleston, Conservative MP for Mid Worcestershire, who doubles up, if that is the right word¸ as an Assistant Government Whip.  Have you heard of him?  Has he been selling the UK in New York, Paris or Beijing?

A Minister of Travel should be in the Cabinet or at least be reporting to the Secretary of State for Transport.  Travel means transport. He can even be an experienced trekker from the Lords.

BTN does not know the answer to our problems, nobody does.  But as Johnathan Hinkles also said in his discourse unless we do something there will no aviation industry to save.

What we don’t want is a reincarnation of Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (written in 1957) a post-apocalyptic novel depicting a group of people in Melbourne as they await the arrival of deadly radiation spreading towards them from the Northern Hemisphere, with Cary Grant and Ava Gardner in the marvellous black and white award-winning film version.

Or is this outlook too sombre. Comments please?

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum


John Richmond, Lochwinnoch

We definitely need a Minister for U.K.travel and in the Cabinet as soon as possible.


Barry Graham, Maryland

Actually if you have a funeral or stone setting to go to, you would have reason to go to the UK as you can leave quarantine temporarily to attend such events. You are right though, who would want to come to the UK for 14 days of quarantine, especially now that it would be followed by 14 days of lockdown.


Paul Kay, London, UK

..."The British Ministry Of Silly Walks Have Someone Available"... "John...Get Over Here!!"... Hugh, an excellent reply to the article ...and worthy of note for all concerned!!


David Starkie, London

I think the bolt hole in Shute's On the Beach was Perth. One of the World's most isolated big city and grandest.


Hugh Becker, United Kingdom

Ever since 1992, when John Major conscripted the mercurial David Mellor to head the new Department of National Heritage – Mellor’s ‘Department of Fun,’ any hope that a British government would take tourism seriously and acknowledge its importance with a ministry that actually bore it name, was lost. Tony Blair’s DCMS, successor body to DNH, was even less focussed and still staffed more by conscripted, rather than enthusiastic and knowledgeable, civil servants. Perhaps the enduring British class system and associated sensitivities has something to do with this socio-economically inexplicable anomaly – it remains just as demeaning to be seen to serve as it was shaming not to be able to afford a Grand Tour in the 19c and to have to settle to be a more modest ‘tourist’. This view may seem extreme, but when, back in 1996, I publicly requested that the then DCMS Minister, Virginia Bottomely, should provide some meaningful and appropriate support for micro-tourism enterprises, my polite plea was dismissed with a derisive snort from the platform. After all, few of the UK’s million plus one man and family tourism operators can lavish ministers with suitable rewards in kind. Yes, Tourism in England still needs and deserves a dedicated minister, but not just anyone. Tourism needs, and would richly repay, the appointment of a minister with the vision to see the industry as a whole and the drive to ensure that, post Corvid-19, the entire industry, not simply the FTSE 100 listed enterprises, is fit and able to contribute to our recovery and battered GDP.


Jeff Wales, Milton Keynes

Fine suggestion. Let’s get ready for the big push when the time comes. No last-minute appointment.


Phil Flap, Canterbury

I supposed if the Chinese government tell their natives to come to the UK they will come. For sure they won’t be sending them to America if Trump wins.


Jacob Jones, Golders Green, London

I walked across Trafalgar Square the other day. Deserted. All very sad.


Maurice Smith, London

Brilliant idea but I think is too early. We do have to be prepared but what we don’t want is a damp squib.


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