Polka Dot Travel in London - Travel Day of Action

Owners of a travel agency with a store in Nantwich attended the “Travel Day of Action” outside Parliament.

Polka Dot Travel directors Mark Johnson and Philippa Wilcox went to London yesterday (June 23) calling for more Government support for the industry.

The travel industry has been decimated over the last 15 months since the start of the Covid pandemic.

More than 800 protesters gathered on College Green at Westminster yesterday, including travel agents, pilots, company owners, and travel industry journalists such as Simon Calder.

Polka Dot Travel opened in October 2013 in Oswestry and has expanded to 19 stores across Cheshire, including High Street in Nantwich, as well as Shropshire, Mid & North Wales, Wirral, and Staffordshire.

The independent agent employs around 90 staff.

Mark Johnson said: “We couldn’t simply shut up shop and furlough all our staff.

“We had to look after our customers and their future bookings, our customers still needed us.

“They needed our support to either help cancel and refund their bookings or help them re-book to an alternative date, we needed man power for that!

“25 out of their 90 staff worked tirelessly to help our customers.

“Whilst this meant we weren’t making any money and travel had ground to a standstill, we were impacted as we had to then refund all cancelled bookings, we weren’t just not earning we were giving money back.

“Along with this we had to pay our staff to do this.

“Imagine a clothing store closing but having to keep staff employed to refund back everything sold within the last xxx months!”

The Travel day of Action lobbied Government to pay attention to problems the UK travel industry is facing.

Philippa Wilcox added: “We fully support the need to safely restart travel.

“We are here in London to highlight the plight the industry is in, if travel isn’t going to be restarting soon the government need to look at tailored support for the industry.

“It’s been heart-breaking over the last 15 months to witness businesses suffering, staff loosing their jobs, tour operators collapsing, we are the only industry that can’t operate and that needs to be recognised fast!”

Helen Johnson, company director, added: “We’re desperate to open our doors again and welcome our customers back instore, we’ve really missed seeing everyone.

“We decided not to re open on April 12 due to the remaining uncertainty around international travel.

“Instead we have our team of Polka Dot staff operating from our call centre located just outside Oswestry.

“This team is looking after all calls, emails and Facebook messages for the entire store network.

“We’re finding lots of our customers due to travel this summer are opting to change their holiday to next year, there is too much change and uncertainty to allow them to look forward to travelling this year.

“We’ll keep reviewing our decision on when to re-open based on the governments announcements every 3 weeks, as soon as we get the news that travel can safely resume we will swinging open those doors to welcome everyone!”

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