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Travel agent launches postcard plea to help beleaguered industry ‘ignored’ by government

PUBLISHED: 15:02 20 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:00 20 October 2020

Stubborn Mule's Liddy Pleasants says she has had plenty of enquiries from customers keen to visit the far-flung locations her company offers  Picture: STUBBORN MULE

Stubborn Mule's Liddy Pleasants says she has had plenty of enquiries from customers keen to visit the far-flung locations her company offers Picture: STUBBORN MULE

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A frustrated travel operator has launched a postcard campaign targeting chancellor Rishi Sunak after reaching the end of her tether over what she sees as a lack of government support for the industry.

Liddy Pleasants, managing director of Stubborn Mule Travel, pictured in Kenya  Picture: STUBBORN MULE TRAVELLiddy Pleasants, managing director of Stubborn Mule Travel, pictured in Kenya Picture: STUBBORN MULE TRAVEL

Liddy Pleasants – who runs £4.5 turnover off-beat travel firm Stubborn Mule, based in Wickham Market – said her customers were keen to take a break in one of the out-of-the-way locations she offers, but lack of specific country-by-country advice from the Foreign Office was making the task of setting up the holidays impossible.

MORE – Off-beat travel firms ‘left on road to nowhere’ as government bans take their toll

After the crisis struck, Ms Pleasants – who has worked in the travel industry for more than 25 years – had to put most of her 14-strong workforce on furlough while a handful were retained to deal with cancellations, refunds and one for future bookings.

Her company specialises in long-haul adventurous holidays for families – but she says she has been unable to send any clients away since March and has little prospect of doing so until Easter next year.

She decided to act after Mr Sunak launched his successor to the furlough scheme, The Job Support Scheme, which launches in November and involves a more complex wage support system for employees who are still working but on fewer hours.

Liddy Pleasants of Stubborn Mule Travel has written to Rishi Sunak following the launch of his Job Support Scheme, which requires employees to work at least a third of their normal hours to qualify for a government wage subsidy  Picture: STUBBORN MULE TRAVELLiddy Pleasants of Stubborn Mule Travel has written to Rishi Sunak following the launch of his Job Support Scheme, which requires employees to work at least a third of their normal hours to qualify for a government wage subsidy Picture: STUBBORN MULE TRAVEL

Now she is urging friends and colleagues from across the travel community to appeal directly to the chancellor by bombarding him with postcards bearing personal messages demanding more help and dedicated support for the industry.

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“We’ve had lots of enquiries from people desperate to go away for the October half term or for Christmas – but there isn’t one place we can offer them that either doesn’t have a travel warning or where countries specifically are not letting people in,” she said.

“The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice needs to be on a much more country-by-country basis for destinations beyond the mainstream areas.”

Stubborn Mule normally goes to parts of Africa but travel bans have made that impossible to organise  Picture: STUBBORN MULEStubborn Mule normally goes to parts of Africa but travel bans have made that impossible to organise Picture: STUBBORN MULE

Stubborn Mule offers more unusual holiday destinations including Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, Namibia and Japan – but business has dried up because of the travel bans.

But Ms Pleasants says the lobbying from the travel industry has made no difference to the government’s stance.

“The letter to my MP has made no difference. It’s time for a direct appeal to Rishi Sunak,” she said.

Sending postcards seemed a “fitting” way to appeal for help for the “currently-entirely-ignored” travel industry, she explained.

A Stubborn Mule trip to Oman  Picture: STUBBORN MULEA Stubborn Mule trip to Oman Picture: STUBBORN MULE

Industry colleagues and friends are already showing support by sending in their own postcards and building support online, she said.


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