On May 27th 2020, The International Skal Council, advising body of Skal International Executive Board, with representatives of from over 50 countries on board, has established a committee to work on guiding and advocating for the restructuring in the Travel Industry. The goal of the committee is to work on strategies on how to protect and guide Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, who are extensively impacted negatively due to COVID-19.
Since early May, the International Skal Council body has been holding several meetings internally as well as with several other Global Travel Associations to listen to the issues within the industry amid COVID-19 crises. This working committee was necessitated due to the collapse of the Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Industry across the globe amid to COVID -19 pandemic and its negative effects on travel agencies and airline passengers worldwide. Skal International, with 35% of its over 14,000 members worldwide being travel agents / tour operators and airlines, has been concerned due to the deprived refunds and the lack of transparency practiced by some airlines to protect the travel agencies and airline passengers across the globe.
According to research carried out by UNWTO, as of April 6, 96% of all worldwide destinations have introduced travel restrictions in response to the pandemic. Around 90 destinations have completely or partially closed their borders to tourists, while a further 44 are closed to certain tourists depending on country of origin. Per report, this pandemic has resulted in closure of Tourism activity and caused massive unemployment resulting in negative growth of the economy across the globe. Since the Travel and Tourism Industry provides employment to one in every ten jobs, the loss in Travel and Tourism like no other event before in history.
Leaders of the Skal International Council pointed out that “the industry is facing serious challenges due to the inconsistent refund procedures enforced by the airlines worldwide. The consumers and agencies who booked their travels with the anticipation of service have been put into misery going through the refund process with airlines and this has been damaging the transparency in the industry.”
During their recent meetings, the Skal International Council discussed that the focus shall be on ensuring “consumer protection” while formulating future policies. Skal International has decided to support the efforts in the industry in advocating with the governments and authorities to restructure policies in a way that the systems will not only protect the customers and stakeholders of the airline industry, but will also draw up plans to redesign the distribution channels with trained and credible stakeholders.
“This is an historic day for our Skal International Council, to decide to ensure that the traveling public are better protected. I am proud that we are standing firmly with the 35% of our members that are Travel Agents / Inbound Tour Specialists.” said Peter Morrison, President Skal International.
“We, our committee within the International Skal Council will be working on a road map to optimise commercial and service relationship between Airlines, IATA, Travel Agencies and Hospitality Industry worldwide to the full satisfaction of customers and share with our global partners and industry in general. Both airlines and customers worldwide know well that without the help of a Travel Agency, they are on their own as they have experienced it first-hand during this COVID-19 period unless they booked their travel with a Travel Agency.” added Constantine Panoussi, International Skal Councillor for Monaco, who is the leading Councillor on this initiative.
“We do hope that moving forward, Skal International will open the way to encourage and guide the national associations to connect with the governments and authorities’ added Julie Dabaly, International Skal Councillor for Kenya and the Secretary for International Skal Council.
For more information about Skal International and membership, please visit www.skal.org.