Travel Gossip’s review of the year

By Lisa James
Home » Travel Gossip’s review of the year

As we bid adieu to another challenging year for the industry, here’s Travel Gossip’s round up of things that happened in the world of travel in 2022…


‘Hardworking home agent’ (that’s what it says on his Twitter profile) Richard Lowrey-Heywood started the New Year £24,000 better off after correctly answering the winning question on TV’s Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel on New Year’s Day.

Other questions people in the trade pondered during January included…

Dare we believe  holidays are really back on after the Government announced the scrapping of pre-departure tests?

How much of a pay cut did Mark Tanzer take in 2021?

And HOW. THE. HELL. did those Apprentice candidates not notice they’d designed a turd cruise line logo?  

Meanwhile, many agents regretted supporting one operator during the pandemic after they found themselves unceremoniously dumped.

And it was a case of Unfinished Symphony for passengers who’d embarked a luxury ship, only to end their vacation with a ferry ride back to port.


We found out the top-ranked travel brands and destinations, said hello to Travel Gossip’s new Secret Agent and said goodbye to ‘kind and caring’ Andy Stark.

Aussies rolled out the red carpet to welcome back Brits after two years; a hero agent saved the day and Teletext broke the law.

West Ham United lost Experience Kissimmee as a sponsor because of cat-kicker Kurt Zouma.


Carla Hodgson (pictured), made it to the Ukrainian border after a hair-raising mercy dash. She was one of many in the trade who stepped up with amazing acts of kindness after Russia invaded.

Brits were told to leave Ukraine immediately, then the Foreign Office told us not to travel to Russia after flights were banned.

P&O Ferries suspended all services then later admitted it knew it had acted unlawfully when it sacked 800 seafarers without notice.

Affordable Car Hire was the most high-profile supplier to close down, but this company and this one were also casualties in the first quarter.


German airline Condor’s stripey new livery; the UK’s hotel quarantine scheme losing an eye-watering £400m and the Spanish Tourist Office wrongly announcing it was finally easing entry rules – all three could have been contenders for 2022 April Fools.

However, they were all true.

In fact, the Spanish Tourist Office had to issue an apology hours after announcing passengers could enter Spain with proof of a negative test or recovery certificate, after someone incorrectly interpretated an official state bulletin. Oops.

Reuben’s Retreat CEO Nicola Graham didn’t care that she went out early from new ITV quiz The 1% Club. Here’s why.

Passengers faced long queues, flight delays, missed flights and lost luggage at UK airports.

One agent went over and above for a client, while this boss urged everyone to JUST. BE. KIND.


Staffing shortages saw easyJet planning to remove seats so it could fly with fewer crew; a hero pilot loading bags on the plane; and TUI telling passengers to bring their own sarnies on flights.

Perseverance paid off for this independent who’d been trying for over 31 years to secure a customer booking.  

Sandals installed carbon monoxide detectors in guest rooms after three people, including a Sandals’ best-selling agent, died at Sandals Emerald Bay Resort.


ABTA bit back as ministers blamed the industry for delays and cancellations over half term.

Airlines were told to plan for cancellations now, rather than leave them to the last minute, and Transport Sec Grant Shapps, without a hint of irony, warned there couldn’t be a repeat of last year’s chaos.

Resfeber Travel’s Arron Mitchell started a social media campaign – #whereisjaneboulton? – calling for the trouble-shooter from TV’s Airline to step in and sort out problems at Gatwick. It received celebrity backing from TV star Rylan.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport said the first it knew about Wizz Air pulling services was on the local news.

Elsewhere, the FCDO lifted a travel ban – imposed in May – to Sri Lanka; Tradewind Voyages suspended sales and a Peppa Pig balloon caused alarm on the runway.


More destinations relaxed or dropped COVID-related entry rules, including Egypt, Mauritius and Thailand, while Australia also eased entry rules and scrapped its digital passenger declaration (DPD) app, which had been criticised for being difficult to use.

This agent urged the trade to keep supporting a luxury resort that was devastated by fire; Red Sea beaches were closed after two fatal shark attacks and a conwoman was charged in a £1.6m holiday fraud and money laundering case – later pleading guilty.  

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye blamed a TikTok hack that shows passengers how to jump queues for causing chaos.


Airlines were given the go-ahead to resume direct flights between the UK and China and a volcano close to Iceland’s capital Reykjavik erupted.

Passengers were filmed climbing through baggage hatches to retrieve their luggage.

One agent  posted a tearful video announcing she’d cleared her COVID-related debts, and another managed to do a full weekly shop while on hold to a supplier.

Jet2 announced it would give its staff more days off and Hays launched its Big Hays Travel Thank You initiative.

The FCDO lifted its latest travel ban to Sri Lanka.


There was a new Secretary of State for Transport but she was gone before you could say ‘Sector Specific Support’.

New Zealand ended its traffic light system and removed testing and vaccination requirements, while Japan, Hong Kong and Barbados all confirmed they were lifting or easing entry restrictions for international arrivals.

A social media backlash forced Center Parcs to review plans to turf guests out during the Queen’s funeral.

Eurostar revealed why it decided to drop its direct Disneyland Paris service and there was dismay in South Yorkshire as it was confirmed Doncaster Sheffield Airport would close.


Spain suddenly lifted all restrictions for non-EU travellers, including Brits – but was it too late for the half-term holiday?

Cuba Direct, which also traded as Live Holidays and Live Cuba, closed; Virgin Atlantic pulled out of Hong Kong after 30 years.

India suddenly changed its visa rules and an airline wanted to charge £700 for a name change.


During the Hays Travel Conference in Bodrum, it was revealed that Hillary Clinton had met Dame Irene Hays in a chip shop in South Shields earlier in the year.

A passenger who went overboard, and was rescued 24 hours later, said the experience had not put him off cruising.

Off-duty flight attendant Sue Davison, returning from her own family holiday, received a standing ovation when she stepped in to make up numbers – ensuring holidaymakers were able to fly home.

Attraction Tickets CEO Oliver Brendon left ABTA, blaming unfair membership fees and high directors’ salaries.

A rent hike forced this long-established agency to close.

Jet2’s trade team jumped out of a plane.


The year ended much the same as it began, with politicians still managing to p**s off agents. This time, Home Secretary Suella Braverman told Brits to think carefully about travelling at Christmas because of strike action.

Advantage Travel Partnership CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said received an honorary degree in recognition of her work promoting the industry.

Sandals abruptly ended price parity; G Adventures CEO Bruce Poon-Tip (pictured above) was banned by Russia; we learned the Bali bonk ban won’t apply to tourists and were warned passport delays could be as bad next year.

The trade helped one agent fulfil a pledge to her late son, another agent set out to save an icon and staff at this popular specialist soldiered on when the heating packed up.

Amid all that, the shortlist was revealed for the inaugural Travel Gossip Awards in 2023. If you haven’t voted yet, you’ve got until 29 January to do so.

That’s about it for 2022. Best wishes for a successful 2023…

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