Confidence of TOP 25 tour operators shaken in past year as they post numbers for coming year. “Oh to be in England now that April’s there,” the country’s Robert Browning (1812-1889) mused in one of his better-known poems. In April 2021 year, it just might mean that the British travel and tourism industry is waging a frantic virtual war of marketing, promoting, selling and making the case for their fellow citizens to travel abroad in order to help preserve the industry.
April, you see, is one of the two occasions each year when Air Travel Organizer (or tour operators) Licenses (ATOL) are approved for the coming year. The process hasn’t been normal for a year-and-a-half now—ever since once second-largest operator, Thomas Cook, collapsed on Sept. 23, 2019, just days before the deadline for filing for ATOL approval. Six months later, in April of 2020—it was just weeks after the COVID-19 crisis became a global pandemic. And now, licensees are filled with anxiety (or eagerness, perhaps), as they await May 17th. This is date when agents and operators can start selling overseas travel.
The data seem to suggest that even though the one-year number for ATOL passengers is down (3.3 million) for just the Top 5 operators. However, the Number 1 operator, TUI UK, is expecting to serve more than 3.7 million customers in the coming year.
By posting both the Top 25 ATOL holders from this year vs. April 2020, the data below show an imperfect, but real l impact because of COVID-19 and a global pandemic.