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2017 A Perspective

I cannot tell you what I would predict for 2017. From my experience, even the cleverest of pundits about the future of travel are, in any event, usually wrong. Take the advent of the Low Cost Carrier, for example. Not one pundit predicted the arrival of RyanAir - and the ones that did talk about it, said that the principle would not last.

What I can talk about, is what one may like to see for future for travel.

The re-humanisation of coach (economy) class travel, would be nice. We are seeing an increase in "air rage" and aircraft having to turn back due to unruly passengers. Why? Maybe it has got to do with the shoe-horning of more passengers into less and less space, or with the taking away of even basic service and with charging for every little thing every few minutes. Airports are no more than retail theme parks with the added irritation of ever lengthening queues for everything (especially "security") with more and more checks carried about by people who think they are doing you a favour by their just turning up for work.

I would like to stop the de-humanisation of hotels. The idea that a robot can check you in and show you to your room should be an anathema to anyone in the hospitality industry. Hospitality is about people, about human interaction, about making people feel at home, when they are far from home and loved ones. To be confronted by a robot at the end of a harrowing journey, is, perhaps, the worst idea ever.

Rail travel should get much more investment. It is clear that, in the UK, the privatisation of rail has been an unmitigated disaster - as witness anyone who has the misfortune to have a commute on Southern Rail. We need to invest in rail. It is a highly efficient way of moving a lot of people from A to B and with High Speed Rail, this can be done in a much more ecologically sound way than flying people on short-haul domestic routes.

We should increase APD (tax) on leisure travel and reduce or abolish it, on business travel. Not the class of cabin, by the way, but on the reason for travel. People travelling on business are seeking ways of developing our trade and so, should not be subject to extra taxation on their efforts.

We should develop London's main airport - but not the one on the current Heathrow site, which site, should be turned over for much needed housing. We need housing around London, not runways. We need to rethink why we have air travel and take into account developments of larger, more fuel efficient aircraft. We should think more about integrating air travel and rail travel and how that integration could be made to work better. We need to think more about car access to airports. The current proposals for the Heathrow expansion would mean blighting 10,000 homes, putting a runway over the intersection of one of the UK's busiest junctions and magically making a main arterial road (the A4) disappear altogether. The current proposals may be able to fit in the aircraft, but passengers will be unable to get near the place. We need a 4 runway airport if we are to compete with the likes of Amsterdam, Paris or even Frankfurt and we need to find a suitable place to build one.

Holidays need to adjust to the income differential. Much advertising is based on the assumption that everyone has substantial disposable income - for a limited number of people, that is the case. For many, it is not. Holiday firms could spend less time advertising the inspirational and more time advertising the practical. There is no need to make a vast chunk of our Island's inhabitants feel like second class citizens. Practical holidays at achievable prices, would be nice to see.

We need to stop punishing those people who take their children from school. People must have the basic right to go on holiday, as a family at a time when it is practical for them. Parents are responsible enough to know that when their children have important exams, that is not a time to go away. Schools could easily prepare a package along the lines of : "This is the subject we will be covering whilst you are away, study it" After all, kids need something to do. Parents could agree to make sure that they visit at least one historically and one geographically important site per holiday. Rather than punish, make the system work.

These are just some thoughts for 2017. All totally random, of course. What the future will, however, hold, I know not but a better understanding of the humanity of travel would be most welcome, I am sure, by many.

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