Pontardawe, centre of the travel retail universe

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Welcome to Britain. Sort of.

The scene at Heathrow Airport Terminal 2’s immigration hall was every bit as bad as I had feared, having read numerous alarming tales about the chaos at UK airports caused in large part by Border Force staff shortages.

Media reports suggest that no seaport or airport in the UK has a full complement of Border Force staff and that overall numbers are one-third below what they should be.

Well, let me add one more media report to that list. My immigration experience at Heathrow was ghastly. You could almost smell the COVID in the packed, putrid, largely maskless environment. And let me point out that none of this was the fault of the airport management.

Urban wasteland: Staffing pressures allied to earlier government mismanagement of the travel recovery have piled pressure on UK airports

Hello, is it me you’re looking for? At first, as this was a shiny black Samsonite, I thought I’d located my suitcase among all the chaos. But then I saw this nifty luggage tag. Could Samsonite’s Middle East travel retail distributor, my TRI-POD co-host and avowed Lionel Richie fan Roger Jackson be on the same flight?

That’s because the Border Force are UK government employees, paid by the same woeful regime that has been berating the British travel industry for being unprepared for this summer’s strong and encouraging international resurgence in passenger traffic.

This is the same government, of course, that insisted that the people adhere strictly to punitive COVID-19 restraints during the height of the pandemic but from the Prime Minister down (if you can go down from such a base level) chose flagrantly to ignore the same edict.

I’m in the UK principally to visit family, although inevitably I’ll slot in a few key work meetings along the way – including the first in-person meeting of The Moodie Davitt Report team since February 2020. That seems an epoch away and it will be good to catch up with my publishing companions who have all worked terrifically hard and well to keep us not only going but thriving through the pandemic.

Good men and true: With Bob Wilby and Richard Jell, my constant mentors and close companions through The Moodie Davitt Report’s first 20 years

I’m writing this from my Interim Pontardawe Bureau, the South Wales town being home to my daughter (and company Chief Administration Officer) Sinead, her husband Adrian and their absolute poppett of a child, my near two-year-old granddaughter Carys.

Pontardawe is also the base for our Subscriptions and Administration Manager Kristyn Branisel, originally from Boston, USA. With me in town, I guess that makes Pontardawe the temporary epicentre of the travel retail publishing universe. And why not? It is a beautiful place that helps me for once to step outside of the pressure vortex I have been immersed in for the past two and a half years.