Throughout our 22 year journey we have had the privilege of coming into contact with some very remarkable and determined people. Many are just ordinary Consumers trying to deal with the adverse situations they find themselves in whilst others are quietly working away in the background trying to secure change for the benefit of all Consumers.
At the close of 2016, for the second year running, and in recognition of our own Founder and Travel Champion, the late Brenda Wall, we have pleasure in announcing and presenting our Travel Champions for 2016.
Our citation in recognition of their actions or work states:
"HolidayTravelWatch presents this recognition to its recipients on the basis that they demonstrate the very best of human qualities and their desire to effect positive change within the travel product. Each recipient either works in or is closely associated with the travel product, in whatever form, and our recognition of them as Champions reflects their strength of character, bravery and determination to do what is right. In a year when the world has become more polarised, our Champions shine out as beacons and examples to us all; our Founder would have been very proud to acknowledge and recognise their achievements".
Our Champions for 2016 are:
- The Staff and Security Services at Brussels Airport. In March 2016, Brussels came under a brutal attack which resulted in the extensive loss of life and serious injuries. The staff and security services worked without fear to help the dying and the injured without regard for their own safety. Not deterred, the staff & security services, bravely and openly highlighted what hey saw as the deficits within their work area and subsequently worked as a team to rebuild confidence in this important travel hub. They demonstrated perhaps the new reality in travel, the zoning of important public areas. Their professionalism through this post-attack era demonstrated the very best in qualities of instilling confidence through humanity for the benefit of Consumers;
- The people of France. From 2015 and into 2016, the people of France have endured suffering beyond comprehension. Paris and Nice demonstrate those horrors and within that experience the reality that some of the dead and injured were visitors to this proud Nation. Through its government, the people of France have reacted with calm and determination through the introduction of proportionate measures thereby protecting the many millions of holidaymakers to this country, whether this was to Paris, the coasts, the Euro-Football competition or to many other tourist areas. Their innovative approach to travel and security advices are a model to all faced with similar challenges;
- The Greek Islanders. We make this award in recognition of the extraordinary humanitarian work carried out by Greek Islanders, be they fishermen, restaurateurs, hoteliers, ordinary citizens. Without regard for themselves, particularly against the massive pressures on the Greek State and the unprecedented flow of humanity in recent times, these islanders demonstrated their kindness toward their fellow man and used whatever resource was available to them to save lives or to simply offer dignity in death. These are the same people who are the very bedrock of the islands natural and tourist industries and whilst we have received reports of holidaymakers helping refugees on these islands, it is the islanders, in the face of a lack of International Assistance along with a lack of tourism to these areas, that demonstrated the very best of human qualities;
- Mr AB (he wishes to remain anonymous). This is an ordinary Consumer who fought for truth in his son's travel experience. Mr AB's son went to Cyprus and was subjected to suspected spiked drinks and subsequent arrest following an incident. Mr AB sought our advices and was able to challenge not only the tour operator but also the hospital analyses, the police, the insurance company, data-protection laws in that country with the end result that his son was exonerated. It was proven that he was subjected to unknown spiking of drinks, that records had been altered, that truth and investigations were less than competent and that compensation was due. Mr AB is a remarkable Consumer, determined to see Justice for his son and demonstrating the very best in an empowered Consumer!
- We reveal our next Travel Champions who are unsung advocates of Travel Safety Rights. For the second year running we make our award to Judith Anderson, an Industrial Hygienist with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) in the USA. Her work is centred within the AFA-CWA 'Air Safety, Health & Security Department'. We are also jointly awarding our Consumer Champion title to Arie Ardriaensen. Arie is a pilot who now specialises as a safety consultant/researcher and also acts as an advisor to European Pilot Trade Unions in the pursuit of determining safety issues for flight-crew. Both Judith's & Arie's skill-set is as wide as it is varied, but it is their Global work on Cabin Air Quality that shines above all. Both have worked and continue to work on the World stage, to bring about better Regulatory and Health Practices environments in the Aviation Industry, and to make the aircraft workplace and cabin environment a safe place for all, whilst helping to build further confidence in the aviation sector. Both experience indifference and difficult meetings with aviation professionals, but their obvious calm and courageous determination is changing the debate and delivering positive change in this most important of all travel products. We make no apologies for repeating that it takes leadership and courage to face corporate giants and political intransigence, but they have nonetheless proven that they are true Advocates for both Employee & Consumer and have gained the respect of all;
- For the second year running we pay tribute again to the quiet dignity and campaigning of some of the Residents of Majorca. Year after Year they face the affects of failures in the Travel Product in and around the resorts of Calvia. For obvious reasons they must remain anonymous but again they have demonstrated their care not just for the island but for all the end users of the Travel Product. They highlight serious criminality on many levels and in doing so express the desire not just for a better environment for themselves but for a Tourism product that is truely sustainable. These are remarkable people, not just demonstrating the very best in personal human qualities but also a genuine care of the health and well-being of Consumers.
Frank Brehany, the Consumer Director for HolidayTravelWatch states:
"As we reach our 22nd year of helping Consumers, I am very proud to provide this Public Recognition of a diverse set of individuals and in one case, a nation-state! Since 2015, we have witnessed horrors within travel and it is important to recognise the huge effort made to improve Consumer safety. Equally it is important to also recognise the unsung heroes who either resolve personal travel issues through grit and determination or those who quietly breach the walls of what is wrong in the Travel Product for the benefit of all. In making this list we once again acknowledge that there are many Champions out there, fighting to secure a better safety or quality of product - we must also recognise those who rely on tourism for their living but are prevented from enjoying this benefit because of a lack of political will to create true safe conditions for their enterprise to flourish - their's is a quiet and often unrecognised courage. We salute all our Travel-Champions and all those who work quietly to make the Consumer experience not just better but safer - they all demonstrate the very best of human qualities!"