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Last month’s announcement of the simplification of the traffic light scheme and taking more countries off the red list was great news for the industry and I’m now getting a lot more booking enquiries. However, I’m still a bit unsure of what advice to give customers, particularly those with children. Could you tell me what I need to know to book help them book with confidence and where I should look for the most accurate and up to date information?
It is good to see that the changes introduced to the traffic light system on October 4 are encouraging bookings. We understand that it can still be a difficult process to navigate and provide guidance to customers and know that being able to offer support to ensure they meet any travel requirements in place will enable them to prepare in advance for their well-earned holiday and book and travel with confidence.
Although it often receives the most attention, it is worth remembering that the traffic light system only determines the rules for entry back into the UK and solely focuses on Covid-19 tests and quarantine requirements that may be needed for this purpose. Alongside this advice, as was the case before the pandemic, it is also important to check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) country travel advice.
We always recommend checking the FCDO travel advice as a starting point to see if there is any advice against travel to a destination and whether there are any other restrictions on entry, including vaccination and Covid-19 testing requirements. As well as entry restrictions, this is also the place to check what other mandatory requirements are in place in a destination such as wearing face coverings or providing proof of vaccination or a negative test result when accessing restaurants or other public places. Rules for children are often different and vary by country, you will find details of any specific requirements here.
Once you have shared this information with your customer, checking the traffic light rules that apply on their return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland will provide additional details for vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers on any testing and quarantine requirements as well as completing Passenger Locator Forms. A great place to find out more information is the #ReadySteadyTravel hub on ABTA.com which features up-to-date information for customers including what you need to know about foreign travel from October along with a wealth of other useful information such as travel blogs and top tips.
Heather Pennock, Destinations Manager – Health, Safety, Crisis & Operations
Each issue, we’ll be introducing you to a member of the ABTA team. This time, it’s Eve Coburn, head of Events
I joined the events team at ABTA in February 2017. At that point we were a team of six and were running approx. 30 events across the year in addition to ABTA’s flagship Travel Convention. Skip forward to February 2020, just before the pandemic hit, and we were on track to run over double the amount of events and with a team of nine.
It has been amazing to watch the events programme develop and evolve over the past four years as demand from members increased and we ran practical seminars and conferences alongside new initiatives, new regulation and policy. I don’t think anyone will forget when GDPR came in!
I joined ABTA having taken six months to travel around the world and with international event experience working for a publishing company specialising in central banks and monetary policy. Prior to that I lived in Amsterdam, so it is fair to say I have always loved travel.
My role at ABTA is to lead the events team and manage our portfolio of conferences and events. ABTA offers a varied and high quality events programme, designed to keep the travel industry up to date on important, business critical issues, with practical guidance and training. It has been a strange period since the pandemic hit and I am very proud of how the team has adapted and worked throughout, alongside other departments, to provide support for members. From the beginning the team pulled together to react to the needs of members via a new weekly webinar series in collaboration with ABTA’s partners to provide free support. Our first webinar took place at the beginning of April 2020 and they are still going strong. We have also been organising bi-weekly member conference calls that I moderate.
One of the most exciting aspects of my job, and something I am really looking forward to, is regrowing the events schedule as we recover from the pandemic. Having consulted with members, we have just launched our autumn events series and I am pleased to say we are now offering virtual training days and hybrid conferences – giving delegates the flexibility to attend in person or virtually. Another important aspect of my job at the moment is to ensure that we balance everyone’s needs with changing circumstances and concerns. I am looking forward to bringing people together, but I am also conscious of ensuring maximum value for those who are unable to travel at the moment. The team have therefore put a lot of work into not only the content we offer, but also the new formats and platforms. We have worked closely with other ABTA departments, including the partnership team, and have just launched two hybrid conferences that I am particularly excited about, firstly the Travel Trends Conference on November 24 and, secondly, the Travel Regulations Conference on November 30.
ABTA is uniquely positioned to offer support and guidance in a number of areas: from complaints handling and crisis management to marketing techniques and regulatory and financial matters. We will be offering practical training days on a variety of topics and will be continually launching these throughout the year.
Never has there been a more important time for members to come together at our events, hear updates from peers in the industry and get practical guidance and questions answered from ABTA and industry experts. I am continually grateful for the feedback we receive from members and their willingness to speak and share their experiences.
We will soon begin work on our largest 2022 events, the two-day travel law, travel finance and travel marketing conferences, as well as Travel Matters, which brings together industry leaders to discuss the most pressing issues facing the industry.