In the upcoming editions of Bow-Tie Briefing, an extremely distinguished female icon in our global corporate travel industry will share her views with us. Based in London, Carol Fergus (Director – Global Travel, Meetings and Ground Transportation at Fidelity International) has recently been named as “Travel Manager of the Year” by The Institute of Travel Management, and will be our guest of honour. Let’s start without further ado the in-depth discussion.
Benson: Carol, how are you? A warm welcome to you for joining our tête-à-tête. I am sure you have many fascinating stories to tell us. First thing first, UK lockdown has been removed! Please update us on the latest from the UK perspective.
Carol: Hello Benson, thanks for inviting me to this interview. COVID is no doubt turning our world upside down, however, we are slowly easing in the UK. Citizens are now allowed to go out freely, with outdoor gatherings limited to 30 people. Restaurants and bars are being re-opened with a restriction of limitation to a certain number of people. Indoor entertainment and attractions such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, bowling alleys, casinos, amusement arcades, museums and children’s indoor play areas are permitted to open with COVID-secure measures in place.
Carol: Travel is still very much restricted now though, but will be relaxed soon for the summer. The UK government has made the announcement of the new “Traffic Light System” identifying countries that are going to be opening up for travelling. Depending on the classification of the countries: “Red”, “Amber” or “Green”, different rules on quarantine/test requirement apply. On the green list for instance, Portugal, Madeira and Gibraltar have no entry restrictions and face the least restrictions set by the government – to book COVID tests before they leave and after they return. Due to this new government policy we are seeing some encouraging forecast booking data from IATA.
Benson: The UK is amongst the highest rate of vaccinations around the world.
Carol: Absolutely, I think we have over 38 million people who have had the first jab and over 24 million having had the second dose. Although UK government is leading the world and they have done an exceptional job, we all need to make sure globally we are operating in the same way because even though we might be doing OK in the UK, in order for us to travel we need to feel we are going to be safe when we travel to other countries and there is not going to be really strong restrictions inflicted on us that will put people off. I think the whole world needs to help each other to get us all vaccinated, so that we can start getting back to normal life.
Benson: Traveller’s confidence is essential for the recovery of travel.
Carol: Very true! If the traveller doesn’t feel confident and safe, there will be much slower progress getting people back to travelling. As travellers have to consider a lot more nowadays, whereas in the past, travellers simply book a ticket and get on the airplane and off we go without many other considerations.
We will continue this in-depth dialogue with Carol in the next edition. As a preview, the focus will be on corporate travel, so please stay tuned! 😊