Have your holiday hopes been dashed?

It's hard to imagine where you can go without a problem when you get there or get back

Have you abandoned all hope of taking a main two-week vacation this year? It would be entirely understandable if you have. For many of us, the ability to look forward to a good holiday is one of the things that helps us put up with the drudgery of our jobs – if we still have a job, that is, thanks to Covid-19!

For me, the ability to afford a decent holiday was one of the perks of being employed. It was something I pretty much tried to insist on. But my wife during the period of my highest earnings was not so keen. We would go away, enjoy (I think) the experience but, nearly always afterwards, my wife would bemoan how much we had spent. “We could have had a new kitchen for what we spent,” was among the typical comments. At the time, I thought she had her priorities wrong. She felt the same about me. The marriage didn’t last. Funny that.

We had been with our children to places such as the Bahamas, Florida (a few times) and Portugal*. But there was always an element of regret afterwards on my wife’s part. Strangely, since we separated, she seems to go somewhere at least twice a year and, by all accounts, gets ratty if she can’t have a break away. She went for a short break to Spain for her birthday at the start of the coronavirus crisis and was disappointed to have to come back a day early because everywhere was shut. At least she got back!

This year, I have a little more than a fortnight booked in September. My children are long out of school so I am able (and keen) to avoid the high air prices of the school holidays. I had planned to go to my favourite place – Thailand. But I am not overly hopeful.

Thai Airways is looking knackered and (as I write) I think there is still the need to self-quarantine at your own expense for two weeks when you get there. I had planned to go for 16 days. So, two days of freedom – just not worth it. And that is without maybe having to self-quarantine for two weeks when I get back in the UK. But that is not such a problem given I now can work from home using the power of the Internet and look like doing so for several months to come. The way things are shaping up I am not sure I will ever be asked to go back to the office five days a week. If I could work from home all the time maybe I could be based in Thailand and still do what I do for an English company. But, let’s not get carried away here.

With each passing day I read of one airline or another experiencing difficulties. The virus, of course, also impacts on airports. London’s Heathrow Airport is handling just a fraction (about a fifth) of the passengers it usually does and it is not as if we are going to see a magic wand waved over the situation any time soon. Many believe that its plans for a third runway are dead – or, at the very least, mothballed. Business travel may take many years to recover – if ever – as we are being forced to discover that video conferencing works pretty well, thank you.

But, back to holidays. I feel very sorry for those who, as is traditional, booked their break at the start of the calendar year and paid a deposit. For many, the “please pay the balance” time is either here or not very far off. Work colleagues I have spoken to (via Microsoft Teams, no contact, of course) are divided. Some say they will cut their losses and not pay the balance; others feel that if they pay the balance they may get all their money back from their holiday insurance. It’s one of those “do you feel lucky punk” calls (apologies to Clint Eastwood as ‘Dirty’ Harry Callaghan). For me, if the deposit were just, say, 10% I would not risk spending the other 90%. But, that’s just me. I have this fear of insurance companies always being keen to come up with a reason not to pay.

Fortunately, I had not tried to book my September flight by the time the coronavirus struck. Last time I went to Thailand, December 2019, I flew via Beijing. I was ill the entire four weeks I was in the Land of Smiles. I did not have coronavirus symptoms, those came after I got back to the UK, but, let’s put it this way, I will be in no rush to fly with a Chinese airline again, no matter what the saving. I don’t know for sure that I caught something on a China Airways flight, but who wants to take the risk?

Of course, when travelling abroad is not easy – for whatever reason – our thoughts turn to holidays at home. But, if lockdown restrictions are not lifted soon, even that option will not be open to us. Potentially, it’s going to be a miserable 2020.

Here, we have a car industry that has had all its dealerships shut for many weeks. I have heard from a couple in the trade who think that, to make up for not being able to take a holiday, people might turn their minds to buying a car. Wishful thinking or based on a reasonable supposition? I leave you to make your own minds up.

Speaking of the car trade I have seen some research that suggests that the UK car industry may be one of the first sectors to recover from the lockdowns.

Reboot Online Marketing Agency has predicted which of the worst hit sectors are likely recover the soonest. After investigating recent Google Trends data, they suggest that the following are the UK’s sector-by-sector recover dates:

1 Motor Trades: May 31

After analysing the search term ‘car rental’, projections show that the sector with the fastest recovery is the motor trade, estimated to return to normal in just over a week’s  time, May 31.

2 Education: June 21

After analysing at the search term ‘maths tutor’, it can be revealed that it is predicted to recover by the June 21 – their road to recovery is helped out by schools reopening and lockdown measures being eased.

3 Beauty and Cosmetics: June 28

It is estimated the beauty industry will be back to normal by this date following its significant decrease of interest in May. It is calculated the industry will recuperate during the summer.

4 Leisure and Sport: July 19

The leisure and sport industry is estimated to recover by July 19. The biggest decrease in interest was recorded in April, but only three months later it is set to be back on track.

5 Tourism: September 10

Although the tourism industry is not in last place, it is not projected to return to normal until September 10.

6 Hospitality and Events: September 25

The projections show that this sector won’t be back to normal any time soon, with an estimated recovery date of September 25. However, this could potentially go on for longer as, although restaurants may be able to open, big events such as music festivals have been reported by the BBC as ‘difficult to imagine’ until 2021.

Please see the full blog post for more data and explanation here.

* On two of our trips to Albufeira in Portugal we met, by chance, the Arsenal, England and ex-Palace, Newcastle United, Coventry City, Queens Park Rangers, Everton and Watford footballer Kenny Sansom. Our kids were about the same age and hit it off. I was sorry to read recently that he has been hospitalised. I am not going to speculate about the reasons for his illness, but I just want to wish him a speedy and complete recovery.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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