The € Crisis; A Travel Crisis?

When I was growing up, I was always taught not to listen into other people’s conversations!  On the whole, I have managed to live by that instruction with the odd one or two slip ups – it’s human nature.  As I write this I am in Brussels waiting to attend the latest ‘Stakeholder’ conference of air passengers rights. These conferences usually flow from the beginning of each year up until June of each year.  We have contributed significantly on the issue of denied boarding, flight delays and flight cancellations in 2010 and 2012 and it presents us with an opportunity to reinforce your experiences with airlines.  As I was travelling here today, as is often the case, the flight is normally populated by business people, fellow lobbyists, holidaymakers and of course, professional politicians.

As we were waiting to disembark from the aircraft and as we walked through the terminal building, it was clear that some people in front of me were ‘professional politicians’.  Whilst I did my best not to listen to what they were saying, discretion failed them and I am sure the entire aircraft cabin and my fellow passengers in the terminal could hear what they had to say.  The conversation was peppered with references to this one or that one in the European Parliament, comments on ‘he’s a good German’, expenses and so on (yes I wrote down what was said); nothing overly controversial except perhaps a failure to recognise that they were in a public place.

What was remarkable about this friendly exchange between the two ‘politicians,’ was the discussion they were having about the current Euro crisis. This subject presented a quieter conversation between them until the one declared:

“The choice is, do you save the Euro or do you choose to get elected”.

I will repeat that again, the one said to the other,

“The choice is, do you save the Euro or do you choose to get elected”.

It was in many respects a shocking comment; if you subscribe to this way of thinking, then perhaps the practice of discretion is what is required!

It lends itself to a closer scrutiny of the expressed sentiment; it suggests that our ‘political’ class are perhaps considering the balancing of the lives’ of many millions of European Citizens, against the quick fix of getting re-elected in 2014!

I don’t know about you, but when I put my ‘X’ on the ballot box, I expect that ‘politician’ to act on the faith I have expressed in them and to find solutions for the good of the many, rather than the immediate good of themselves.

I have spent several hours reflecting on the comment and cannot get out of my head the notion, that if the Eurozone does collapse, the effect it will have, not just on the Consumers, but also the workers in the travel agency down the road from you, the cabin attendant, the pilot, the resort representative, the hotelier, the beach vendor, the souvenir shop owner, the coach driver, the airport baggage handler, collapsed travel companies, the Consumer who loses their job and so on!

The whole world of travel is a symbiotic relationship – they may not like each other – but they are heavily reliant on the money that is spent by the Consumer and the onward benefit that brings.  It is interesting to note that whilst the EU Parliament recognises the need to create a sustainable travel product, the very notion of sustainability is threatened by such sentiments.

I hope that the said ‘politicians’ read this piece and recognise that their thoughts are so far removed from the lives’ of the people that put them there and pays no respect to their concerns or fears.  It is time for ‘politicians’ to recognise that they are not a group of people that sit separately from the rest of us.  We expect them to rise up and do the job they were sent to do and resolve problems, not wait for the pieces to fall.  If these ‘politicians’ and others like them seek out a solution based in ‘personal’ or so-called ‘real-politiks’, then the whole equation of travel (whatever about any other corner of our daily lives’) will take many many years to recover.

If they cannot rise to the challenge, then perhaps it is time to move over and let others do what needs to be done – there is too much at stake; now is not the time for personal considerations!

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