Lockdown, COVID & Travel.

(Updated information)

16th March 2020. The UK prime minister announces a ban on nonessential travel and contact.

On the 26th, the first lockdown commences. Nonessential shops are closed. Students confined to accommodation. Flights are grounded. Shops run out of toilet roll as a result of panic buying.

Dolphins return to Blackpool in the North. The UK recorded one of the best summer weather in years. The sky’s were quiet. Communities came together for a short time. Streets were filled with the sound of clapping for the NHS workers, delivery drivers and other essential workers. Windows were filled with rainbows in support of the NHS.

12th April 2021. Over a year later, most things open up a bit more, and then self-contained accommodation holiday’s were encouraged.

Lots of independent businesses closed as a result of lockdown, but how big of an impact did COVID have on the travel industry?

Travel industry struggling…..

During the first lockdown, accommodation and travel agency businesses saw the sharpest decline in turnover during the first national lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May 2020.

Hays travel had to close 89 of their UK branches. This company provided work for the staff who came from Thomas Cook when that company closed down. This company is still active and continue to make their loyal customers happy.

“The family-run firm stepped in to take over all 555 Thomas Cook travel agencies – as well as 2,330 former staff – after the failure in September 2019.” – The Gaurdian.

(Source of Picture).


What happened to the staff?

Well, about 450 staff  lost their jobs after a slump in business caused by the government’s sudden warning against travel to Spain.

Now this is a big company, and these 80+ branches are just a drop in the pool when you find out they have over 500 other branches to fall back on. When you’re a small company or just one shop/restaurant, the story is not the same…

In places like Greece and cities like Rome, restaurants not only need local residents to keep them going but they sometimes depend too on the tourism generated by local attractions. With lockdowns happening all over the globe, travellers were stopped from entering the country, which meant that small businesses that needed the income from holiday makers needed to close down or shut up shop.

Unemployment in Italy

Italy was the first European country to lockdown nationwide in an attempt to stop the spread. In March 2020, Italy’s industrial production fell almost 30%! The decline in unemployment started at the start of March and continued in April, reaching the lowest figure since 2007.

“Since July 2020, employment has started growing at a constant rate. However, employment levels in August 2020 are still 1.8% lower than the ones registered in August 2019. The drop in the number of employed is largely due to fixed term contracts not being renewed.”


According to Statista, Forecasts published in April 2021 expect that the unemployment rate in Italy will stand at 10.3 percent this year, an increase compared to 2020.

8.4 Million people are currently unemployed in Italy.

(Picture: GFM)

We can see on this chart, (provided by Trading Economics), that the numbers stayed at 9.3 percent in August of 2021, unchanged from July.

This is promising and can bring hope for those who are trying to find work, but as we have seen, nothing is ever guaranteed.

In conclusion, it is easy to see that everything is connected and that when one part of the chain is affected, the rest suffer too. Those who have been affected badly by Coronavirus, whether it is physically, mentally, emotionally or financially, I hope you are soon able to find some relief from your struggles.


The Needles, Isle of Wight

The history of the Isle of Wight dates back to the Iron Age, with much evidence of settlement being discovered through archaeology and ancient structures which still stand today. 

The Needles History

The Battery

This military battery was built in 1861 to 1863, and its purpose was to protect the West end of the Solent and defend against the enemy ships.

How did the rocks get there name?

Originally, there were four rocks. The name the Needles comes from the fourth rock, which was needle-shaped and known as ‘Lot’s Wife’.

“But Lot’s wife, who was behind him, began to look back, and she became a pillar of salt.” – Genesis 19v26, (JW.org)

Sadly, that 4th pillar fell down in 1764, and the collapse was that great, it is said that it was felt in Portsmouth, on the other side of the Island and over The Solent.

These unusually vertical rocks are a result of heavy folding of chalk. The remaining stacks are of very hard chalk that is resistant to erosion.



The Chair lift

They have a chair lift to take you down to the beach at the bottom of the cliff, here they have boat rides available to the base of the needles. They can range from a 15 minute ride or 20.


Steam Railways

We were on holiday on the Isle of Wight not long ago and were taken to a a place called Ryde. Here, they have a fully functional steam railway!

The steam railway is only 5 miles long, which is only a small fraction of the once stretched over 55 miles long.


How did it all begin?

The railway first opened in 1862 between Cowes and Newport. However, it was not until 1900 that the island received its second railway and the rail complex was complete.

Sadly after 2 world wars, their economic status was questioned and as a result lines to Bembridge, Freshwater and the very last line opened to Ventnor, all closed. This was in 1950.

Just 15 years later, the lines between Cowes, Ventnor to Ryde were the ones now under threat. But by now, this line was unique and was becoming a tourist attraction for fascinated historians. There was interest from several parties trying to protect was was left.


Ron Strutt

(His Obituary)

Who is he? Well when he was a teenager, he’d tried to buy one of the old Island engines from British Rail but sadly hadn’t succeeded. He didn’t give up as he saw how important it was.

“Ron and friend Iain Whitlam called a meeting in south London during late ’65 to gather interest from like minded people in possibly preserving something of the old Island railways.”

Official steam railway website

Whitlam coined the name Wight Locomotive Society. They agreed to try and secure at least one ex London & South Western Railway O2 class engine and possibly a carriage or few.

The line from Cowes to Ryde remained open until February 1966 and only part of the Ventnor route, that from Shanklin to Ventnor itself closed in April the same year.

If you would like to read more about the history, please click the following link to learn more.