The travel and tourism industry is currently benefiting
from the situation with the volcanic ash cloud – but airlines could
go bust and summer bookings may be affected, according to a senior
Peter Robinson, Senior Lecturer (Leisure Industries)at the
University of Wolverhampton, said the effects could have a much
longer term impact.
He said: “Amidst the chaos and delays there is a very real risk
that some airline companies will go out of business, and the
current situation highlights the now apparent 'fragility' of flight
may have an impact on travellers who may be concerned in future
about the risk of being stuck in a foreign country. This could have
longer term impacts on the airline business.
The Met Office said the risk of volcanic ash heading over the UK
could continue until Friday, when the wind direction expected to
change. More than 6.8 million passengers have been affected so far,
as the crisis enters its fifth day.
Mr Robinson, who is Course Leader for Tourism Management and is
currently researching trends in moving away from fast long distance
transit to slower forms of travel, added: “The whole situation is
having a very positive benefit for other travel operators and car
hire firms in terms of both profits and also as alternative modes
“However, it is potentially bad news for summer holiday bookings
with many people likely to look elsewhere for their travel
arrangements, possibly with subsequent decisions to travel a
shorter distance, within easy reach on trains and ferries.
“This will impact not only on decisions made by people in the UK
planning their holidays, but could also impact on inbound bookings
from overseas from lucrative and important American, Asian and
Australasian markets which are important to the British and
European tourism economies.”
He added it could, however, have a longer term positive effect
on UK tourism, furthering the growth of the 'staycation' which
emerged strongly through last year’s economic difficulties and
helping to raise further awareness of the many places to visit in
the UK, which in itself brings economic benefits.
Referring to the short-term, Mr Robinson, of the University's
School of Sport, Performing Arts and
Leisure, said: “The challenge still remains that, even with a
solution, airline operators have to then be allowed access to
airspace to implement this plan and there is an understandable
nervousness about allowing planes to fly through potentially
hazardous ash clouds.
The other difficulty is the fact that we are generally relying
on a computer model to assimilate the movement, size and shape of
the ash cloud and in reality there may be safe passages through
which planes can pass, but without further investigation (through
manned or unmanned observation planes and test flights) it is
impossible to know where these are or how safe it is to fly.”
For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact
Emma Kilvert in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322003.
Date issued: Monday 19April 2010
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