The international travel industry faced yet another challenge this
month with the combination of terrorist bombings in London followed
by Hurricane Emily in the Caribbean. Yet, as I write this, all
reports indicate that both events were handled with competent
professionalism in every segment of the industry. Hotel workers
became frontline disaster-relief workers; agents and tour operators
swung into action and came to the aid of clients; and visitors’
bureaus bombarded the public with a unified message that travel
need not must not stop because of these localized tragedies.
Instead of gloomy predictions on how these events would
ultimately hurt travel, the news this month was full of success
stories about the industry’s response to the challenge. I read an
account of workers in London’s Hilton Metropole, which was close to
the scene of one of the bombings, transforming the hotel’s lobby
into a triage area for victims right after the blast even as some
of their own staff was injured. I spoke to Ana Portas, of the
Cancun Hotel Association, who told me how proud she was of the
teamwork her colleagues showed in putting into effect the resort’s
hurricane contingency plan, helping to assure the safety of that
city’s 50,000-plus tourists.
Such stories are an indication of the quality of character of
our industry as a whole, and it made me proud to be a part of it.
In the coming weeks and months, TravelAge West will take a look at
some of the ways the travel industry and travel agents in
particular can address the uncertainty of our business, but it’s
satisfying for now to note that the hard lessons of the past appear
to have made us stronger for the struggle.