outbound travel sector is one of our town's great success stories.
Several renowned and established travel companies are based here, and play an important part in the economy - companies like award-winning Red Savannah and Holiday Architects, based in Eagle Tower.
Nationally the sector is important to the overall UK economy, providing more jobs than the entire car and motorcycle sale sectors put together.
After suffering a torrid time during Covid, the sector is now running to meet a wave of pent-up demand from British consumers for travel.
That's where my office can play its part. Travellers need passports, of course, and we are working to help those who urgently need new or updated documents.
We're seeing a surge in demand in Cheltenham. The national context is that an unprecedented 9.5 million passport applications are forecast to be made this year, against a normal demand of around five million a year.
Although staffing levels at the passport office have increased by 650 over recent months and over 98% of applications are processed within the stated ten-week timeframe, more people are seeking emergency documents.
In certain cases we are able to help, and my team meets HM Passport Office staff daily to escalate applications.
So, if you have been waiting for your passport for more than 10 weeks or you have an urgent and compassionate reason to travel, contact my team on email@example.com with a summary of your application, your PEX number and your date of travel, and I will ensure this is raised with HMPO urgently. Compassionate grounds may be the death, serious illness or accident of a family member, or urgent medical treatment.
There are many in our town who yearn to see friends and family abroad, or attend weddings or funerals. Others may just crave that longawaited break. If I can help you catch that flight, I will.
In a small way, I hope that supports Cheltenham's travel companies too.
[Column first published in the Glos Echo]