In the next student blog of our series on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Kent and Medway”, undergraduate politics student Sharday Voller reflects on the disruption to millions of holidaymakers and the implications for the tourist industry.

I am one among many holiday goers that have had their travels brought to an unfortunate and sudden halt. Due to Covid 19, thousands of people were excited about their future travel plans, whether this was to a beach destination or skiing holiday. Everyone has been disappointed with the inevitable prospect of this not happening when they had planned.

My personal experience of this became a reality when I received an email on the 29th April 2020 confirming my holiday is now cancelled. My sister and I had planned to travel to Orlando together while exploring the Disney World Parks. Instead we are going to enjoy our holiday period in the comfort of our own home.

Like many, we had chosen to book with a well-established travel agent. We decided on booking with TUI, but since the pandemic began “almost 1 million holidaymakers who were due to travel with Tui have had their trips cancelled” (Osborne, 2020). This leaves us plus 1 million customers uncertain about what will happen with their holiday in the not to distant future.

TUI customers have been told they are to receive a full credit refund as well as 20% on top of their original holiday cost as an apology. But this must be used before October 2021. However, if customers wish to receive a cash refund this you are advised to call them after you are issued your credit refund. This is worrying to me as a customer since no one has been guaranteed the same holiday at another time of year, as well as the concern that the threat of Covid 19 in the travel industry will still be here next year.

Not only this but with the travel industry giving out thousands of refunds, this may not only bankrupt them but also deter people from traveling in the future. This could be a terrifying prospect for TUI, since they have already “received approval for a €1.8bn loan to help it survive an almost total shutdown of its operations” (Financial Times, 2020). This presents the struggle TUI is already facing due to Covid 19 and there’s no guarantee customers will be trusting enough to book with them again so soon after the outbreak.

In turn this has increased the prospect that the future of holidaying could see a surge in Brits holidaying at home. People I have spoken to during lockdown have also expressed to me their plans to holiday at home rather than travel abroad any time soon. This leaves plenty of speculation on what this means for the future of the UKs travel industry. With the more immediate effects of Covid 19 on the UK travel industry could mean “holidaying in the UK this summer may well feel like we’ve time-travelled back to the 1950s, before the advent of affordable foreign travel” (Choat, 2020) with people looking forward to the simple pleasures of picnicking or walking down the beach with an ice cream rather than going to a crowded bar or restaurant.

However, if this continues into the years to come then many businesses in the UK would be unable to survive. But the opposite could happen where Brits begin spending more of their money into places such as the Lake District. This would enable the tourism industry in the UK to boom despite the low numbers of people traveling here from other countries.

The overall message is, no one really knows what the future prospect of the travel industry will be due to Covid 19. People like me are apprehensive about the future, but Brits alone could save our travel industry by holidaying at home.

Sharday Voller is a second year studying Politics at Canterbury Christ Church University.