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The ups and downs of the travel industry

Andy Stark, managing director of Global Travel Group, says that even with the travel industry’s ups and downs, the passion of the people who work in it remains strong

I feel very grateful to work in the travel industry. It can be so rewarding, seeing the joy on people’s faces when they discover a new destination and create new experiences, or hear them retelling a story from a trip of a lifetime.

Travel changes the way we think and act, it opens our minds to new experiences and these new experiences can change our perspectives. Travel is almost always a positive, life enhancing adventure.

It conjures happy images of people frolicking on a beach, sipping a cocktail by the pool or exploring a local market and learning about new cultures.

Day to day, we’re an incredibly lucky bunch. It’s no coincidence that people build long and successful careers in this business since it is an industry that is very hard to give up once you’ve found the niche you love.

But to every yin there is a yang. Over the course of 2019, there have been a few devastating hits on the travel industry.

Getting ready to sell the Caribbean? Then the devastating hurricane arrived to flatten large parts of the Bahamas. Travel agents undergoing a high street revival? Then, along came the end of Thomas Cook. It’s incredibly difficult to know what to say in the aftermath of life-changing events such as these.

Natural disasters cause people to lose friends, family members and their livelihoods. Big company collapses have enormous knock-on effects for workers and their communities.

But then what happens? Often and in the case of the travel industry in particular, it has been heartening to see an outpouring of goodwill and camaraderie.

In all the fall-out from Thomas Cook – despite the anger and the despair – nothing has come close to overshadow the great news that many of its stores are opening again under the Hays Travel banner.

John and Irene Hays are savvy business owners, and while their operation competes with our Global Travel Group members, we can’t help but wish them well as undoubtedly it is good news for the travel industry as a whole.

Elsewhere, tourism representatives in the Bahamas will be keen to remind people that the worst damage was confined to its northern islands, and that this great destination is still open for business.

It is our responsibility to ensure holidaymakers are well-informed – and therefore well-equipped – to continue to travel to destinations that might otherwise see tourism dwindle away.

What’s clear is that travel is packed with brilliant agents, independent agencies and suppliers who want to make a difference. We’re resilient, funny, industrious and dedicated to the good that our industry stands for.

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