Don't let fuel furore ruin Easter plans

SCOTT HEPPELL/AP

The fuel furore is set to scupper Easter getaway plans and serve a blow to the tourism industry, with people deciding to stay at home to conserve petrol, according to a report in the Telegraph today.

Despite possible strike action ruled out for the weekend, lingering concern about fuel shortages and the bad weather forecast means many families may forgo their travel plans.

At a time when the tourism industry is gearing up for a much-needed boost in trade at Easter, many businesses are seething from warnings that people are forgoing their travel plans in light of the fuel crisis.

With last week's panic buying leading to many forecourts without fuel, rationed supplies or inflated prices, the RAC has warned that the Easter break could be one spent at home for many families.

John Franklin of the RAC told the newspaper: "There is no doubt thousands of people who might normally go away will reconsider and change their plans."

Some garages are thought to be profiteering off the back of the crisis by hiking prices in light of high demand and low supplies, although the unscrupulous practice it is not expected to be widespread.

To make matters worse, some garages are not expecting any more top-ups until Good Friday when many people would normally be heading off on their Easter break.

Government blame
The Government has been accused of stoking panic after Cabinet Minister Francis Maude advised motorists to fill jerrycans. Tourism bosses are angry that the statement fuelled needless anxiety at a time when they desperately need a boost to business.

Before the fuel frenzy hit last week, the AA predicted that 54% of families would take to the roads over Easter, with traffic peaking on Maudy Thursday (5 April).

The government is now being called upon to calm the mood to prevent a dip in travel over the Easter break that will cost the industry dear.

"The Government created this fuel crisis and now must take full control," said RMI Petrol chairman, Brian Madderson.

Don't panic
No 10 is now advising motorists to check the Department for Energy and Climate Change DECC website for updates on its advice over petrol supplies.

Today it said that motorists "can help by following sensible advice at this point, before there is a strike and when there is no problem with supply".

It says: "There is no need to queue at petrol forecourts. There is no urgency to top up your tank, a strike will not happen over Easter. Check travel sites and latest news before travelling. Stick to speed limits as this helps conserve fuel."

No need to cancel
Research from the AA suggested that 93% of families would remain in the UK over the Easter break, yet there are now suggestions that many may look for cheap last minute deals abroad to escape the bad weather and continuing fuel shortage.

This will deal a severe blow to home-grown tourism as well as the wider economy, and the industry is urging people to travel as normal and for those overly concerned about fuel shortages to consider other forms of transport rather than forgoing travel altogether.

The general mood is that if you can travel, stick to your original plans and fill up your tank as usual. Keith Miller, from the AA, said: "People heading off should just refuel as normal, keeping at least a quarter of a tank in your car in case of traffic delays or if you're travelling in an unfamiliar area."
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