The UK’s two-week quarantine on arrivals will compound the Covid-19 crisis which has already put more than 1.2 million UK travel and tourism jobs at risk, industry leaders warn.
The sector is already suffering from substantial losses across airlines from British Airways and EasyJet to Virgin Atlantic, with fears that the imposition of isolation on travellers from Monday will worsen an already critical situation.
World Travel & Tourism Council president and chief executive Gloria Guevara claimed that quarantines should not be necessary if “appropriate and effective” containment measures are in place at departure and arrival points.
“We understand protecting public health is paramount, but this measure, which affects international visitors and those arriving back into the UK from abroad, will have a significant and long-lasting negative effect on the travel and tourism sector,” she warned.
“We’ve no doubt these measures will deter both business and leisure travellers from visiting major hubs throughout the country.
“It will worsen an already critical situation and delay the much-needed recovery of the UK economy. So, it’s vital that ‘air corridors’ to low-infection countries are opened as soon as possible.
“WTTC data shows the Covid-19 crisis has led to more than 1.2 million travel and tourism jobs being at risk in the UK, with substantial losses already.”
Her comments came as individual Travel Counsellors were urged to contact MPs to support industry-wide lobbying against the quarantine.
The company’s home-working business owners are also calling for a relaxation of the Foreign Office ban on overseas travel.
More focus and resources should be aimed towards establishing travel corridors with ‘low risk’ destinations.
They have been provided with a letter to send to their local MP, requesting a withdrawal of 14-day quarantine confirmed on Wednesday in the Commons by home secretary Priti Patel.
Travel Counsellors chief executive Steve Byrne said: “With an effective track and trace system now being put in place, together with confirmation of international air bridges or ‘travel corridors’, and enhanced health and safety requirements met by measures instated across the globe, we’re supporting our people to make their voice heard by encouraging their local MPs to see these initiatives as the most sensible and practical solution at this time.“
The letter to MPs ends by urging that the considerations are not only for the travel industry as a whole, but for small business owners across the UK.
The latest developments came as Patel and transport secretary Grant Shapps prepare to host a roundtable today “to work across the travel sector and the broader business sector as well on how we can innovate and move forward together”.
The home secretary said she wanted to form a “long-term plan” for the industry.
And prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed international talks were underway to agree ‘air bridges’ with low-risk holiday destinations like Greece, Portugal and France so UK tourists could avoid the 14 day quarantine. But he declined to put a timescale on when people might be able to go abroad for a holiday.
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “The government is causing confusion as it continues to issue conflicting advice between the imposition of a 14-day quarantine and the talk of air bridges while the FCO travel ban against all travel is still in place.
“We are now in a position where travel firms and airlines are selling holidays that are unlikely to go ahead, while failing to warn people that there will be little hope of a refund if flights are still running.”
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